Representative Church Body Library
If you are looking for Irish ancestors who belonged to the Church of Ireland, your research may well take you to the Representative Church Body Library (RCBL). Located at Braemor Park in Churchtown, this repository is found just outside of the city of Dublin. The library holds the archives and manuscripts of the Church of Ireland, including parish baptismal, marriage and burial registers and vestry minute books.
Visiting The Representative Church Body Library
However, before you consider taking the trip out to the Representative Church Body Library there are several things that you should consider. A large portion of Church of Ireland parish registers were deposited in the Public Records Office, which was destroyed by fire in 1922. This means that the surviving Church of Ireland registers are not a complete or comprehensive collection. The RCBL hold the majority of those surviving registers for the Republic of Ireland. Registers for what is today Northern Ireland as well as registers for some of the counties on the border with Northern Ireland are found in the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland. There are also a small number of records held at the National Archives of Ireland (formerly the Public Records Office of Ireland) and a still smaller number are in local custody.
This means that before you visit the RCBL, you need to determine whether they hold the parish registers that you are interested in. You can now download the most up to date and comprehensive catalogue for Church of Ireland parish registers in the Republic of Ireland from the Representative Church Body Library ‘Archive of the Month‘ pages. This list was published in July 2014. The catalogue lists all parishes in 19th century Ireland, the records that survive for each parish and where those registers can be found. You will find a similar Guide to Church Records for Northern Ireland on the PRONI website. Both of these catalogues will help you to decide where you need to go to consult the records relevant to finding your Irish roots.
If you do need to visit the Representative Church Body Library you can get there by the No. 14 Bus from Dublin City Centre. Just ask the driver to let you off at Braemor Park. You can also get the Luas Tram from Stephen’s Green to Windy Arbour (with a 15 minute walk to reach the archive). There is limited parking at the library if you intend to drive.
The library is open from 9.30am to 1pm and from 2pm to 5pm, if you are planning a visit, make sure you do not arrive just before or during lunch, when the library is closed. There is very little entertainment or refreshment to be had in this suburb of Dublin at lunchtime on a weekday.
The helpful staff will assist you to navigate their internal catalogue to locate the registers you are looking for. You cannot photograph the registers, but you can request a digital copy at a cost of €10 per entry. There are no fees for consulting the records in the library.