Irish Births Marriages and Death Records
Civil registration of Irish births marriages and death commenced in 1864. Non-Catholic marriages were registered from 1845. It should be noted that in the early years of civil registration an estimated 15% of births and marriages went unregistered.
Civil Birth Certificates record:
Date and place of birth
Name of the child
Name, occupation and address of the father
Maiden name of the mother
Birth certificates are useful for determining the family address and the mother’s maiden name.
Civil Marriage Certificates record:
The date of the event and the church in which the marriage took place.
The the name, age, occupation and address of the bride and groom
The names and occupations of their fathers
Witnesses to the marriage
Witnesses to the marriage were sometimes siblings of the bride and groom. Addresses recorded on marriage certificates represent the address used the night before the wedding and not always the family home of the bride and groom.
Civil Death Certificates are the least informative, recording:
Occupation of the deceased
Cause of death
Name of the informant
Informants can sometimes be family members. The age recorded on a death certificate can help to establish an approximate date of birth for the deceased.
The indexes for Irish Births Marriages and Death Records registered in Ireland from 1864 are held by the General Register Office (GRO). You can now search the GRO indexes online. Volunteers from the Church of the Latter Day Saints (LDS) have transcribed the indexes up 1958 (excluding most records from Northern Ireland after 1922) and these are available at Family Search (Free). A copy of the same database is also available at Ancestry (Paid).
When you arrive at Family Search, enter the details of the individual that you are searching for. Keep your search broad to start with and only enter the name and year of the event. I always recommend searching at least 2 years either side of an approximate date of birth or marriage, as given dates were rarely accurate in the 19th century.
On the left hand side of the results page there are options to filter the results. In the ”Collections” filter you can select Ireland, civil registration indexes, 1845 – 1958. This will narrow the results to this source only. Make a record of the name, registration district, year and quarter, volume and page number for the birth or marriage you are interested in. This information will be necessary if you want to order the original certificates from the GRO.
The online indexes of births deaths and marriages for Ireland will provide you with the reference details for the birth death or marriage certificate, but not the information on the certificate itself. Once you have identified the relevant references you can either visit the GRO research room in Dublin to purchase the certificates or you can order them online with Timeline
It should be noted that the index on the Family Search website was compiled by volunteers and as with any transcribed online records there is always the potential for errors and omissions. If you fail to find the entry you require in the online index, I would recommend having someone search the original index books in the GRO.
The Family Search website also includes some abstracts of birth certificates from the 1860s and 1870s. If you are searching for an ancestor who was born in Ireland in the 1860s or 1870s and you know their parents names, you can search this collection to identify your ancestor or one of their siblings. It is possible that their birth certificate has already been transcribed. The online transcript does not include all of the information from the birth certificate, so the original should still be purchased.
The Irish Civil Birth, Marriage and Death Indexes are also now available online at www.irishgenealogy.ie. This online index includes births over 100 years old, marriages over 75 years old and deaths over 50 years old. The benefit of this index is that for births after 1903 the date of birth and mother’s maiden name appears in the index. This can be helpful if you are searching for the birth of a child with a common name or looking for siblings of your ancestor.
Can’t Find a Certificate?
It was necessary to pay a fee to register a birth. This was beyond the means of many poorer families and as such a birth could go unregistered.
You were fined if a birth was registered late. In order to avoid the fine, some parents gave an incorrect date of birth for the child so that it fell within the period of registration. This means that a child that was 6 months old could be given a date of birth making them only 2 months old.
It was the responsibility of the parish priest or minister to register marriages. In some cases the priest failed to register the event.
Absent Irish Births Marriages and Death Records
Irish births, deaths and marriages were registered in the office of the local Registration District. This record was then copied to the office in Dublin for inclusion in the Index Books. In some cases the copy was lost in transit to Dublin and is thus absent.