National Library of Ireland

National Library of Ireland

The National Library of Ireland is one of the most wonderful buildings to visit and start researching your Irish roots.  The Library was established under the Dublin Science and Art Museum Act of 1877 and was initially the repository for the Royal Dublin Society and the Joly library. The domed reading room, which opened in 1890, is a pleasure to work in and the staff are always friendly and helpful. There are exhibitions throughout the building as well as a great cafe and outdoor terrace with benches, tables and chairs, from which you can watch the comings and goings of the business of government in Leinster House next door.  The National Library of Ireland is located on Kildare Street beside Leinster House.

** The National Library of Ireland is currently closed and there is no date set for reopening.

What You Will Find in the National Library of Ireland

national-library-of-irelandFor someone interested in tracing their Irish roots, the National Library is an important destination.  The Library has a dedicated staffed Genealogy Room where you can access websites such as the Irish News Archive,,, and many many other resources, catalogues and guides.  This room is found on the left hand side when you reach the mezzanine level in the main building.

Roman Catholic parish registers are an essential source for anyone researching their 19th century Irish ancestors.  If your ancestor was Roman Catholic and born in Ireland prior to 1864, this may be where you should start your research.  Many visitors plan to research parish registers in the local church where their ancestors originated.   Unfortunately, the church is under no obligation to facilitate your research and you may be refused access to the records if they are held in local custody.   It is also important that these registers are preserved.  Now researchers can search digital images of every surviving page of parish registers from the earliest (about 1740) up to 1880 on the website of the National Library of Ireland. You will need to know the name of the Catholic parish (as opposed to the civil parish). You can find links to each parish as well as to other online databases of parish registers at John Grenham’s Irish Ancestors site which has a very helpful map of Roman Catholic parishes in Ireland. The National Library has a dedicated room with computer terminals where you can access this vital collection on the mezzanine level, directly across from the Genealogy Room. 

The National Library also hold microfilm copies of the Tithe Applotment Books.  Checking the original Tithe Applotment Books is important because the online collection hosted by the National Archives of Ireland is unreliable.

Other Useful Genealogical Sources at the National Library of Ireland

The National Library of Ireland also holds the largest collection of Irish newspapers on the Island.  Although some Irish newspapers have already been digitized, there is still a very significant collection that are not yet online. A local newspaper from the area where your ancestors originated could be very valuable to your research.  You can search the National Library of Ireland catalogue of newspapers by name, county or town of publication on their online Newspaper Database.

The library is home to a large collection of estate papers from all over the country.  Estate papers can contain rent rolls, leases and tenant records that can be very valuable for family history research.  You can locate estate papers using the National Library’s online manuscript catalogue Sources. The manuscripts can be accessed via the Manuscript Reading Room, which is located near the bottom of Kildare Street at nos. 2-3, above the exhibition space and beside the Alliance Francaise.   Material accessed through the Manuscripts Reading Room must be requested the 24 hours before your visit.  See Advance Order Your Material, below.

The library also houses an extensive collection of street and trade directories as well as published local histories and genealogical guides.   The National Library of Ireland holdings can be found on their main catalogue and accessed in the Reading Room of the Main Library building.

Entry Requirements

If you plan to visit the National Library of Ireland to research parish registers or use the facilities in the Genealogy Room or consult newspapers on microfilm, you do not need a readers’ ticket.  If you plan to call up journals, books or manuscripts, such as estate papers, you will require a readers’ ticket.  You can apply for a readers’ ticket in the office on the left hand side of the of the entrance hallway from 10-12 and 2-4 Monday to Friday.  You can also apply from 5-7.45 Monday to Wednesday and 9.30-12.45 on Saturday.  You will require one form of photographic identification such as a drivers’ license or passport.  It will only take a few minutes for your ticket to be issued.  You can find out more about the rules for readers on the National Library website.

Advance Order Your Material

You can also order material in advance so that it is ready and waiting for you when you arrive at the library.  The library has restricted the delivery times for material and if you miss one, you may have to wait for one hour  or more before the next delivery.   Ordering your material in advance (even if you do not have a readers’ ticket) can be done using the Library’s online ordering form.

The Manuscript Reading Room now also requires visitors to order their material one day in advance.  This means that you cannot arrive in the Manuscript Reading Room and expect to order up material, you must use the online ordering form at least one day before your arrival.  There are also time restrictions on what you can order for a particular time the following day, so make your preparations early the day, or even week before.

Opening Hours

The library opens every day at 9.30am and is open late, until 7.45pm,  from Monday to Wednesday and is also open on Saturday morning from 9.30am until 12.45pm.  This is one of the only repositories that is open late and on a Saturday.  On Thursday and Friday the library closes at 4.45pm.

Lockers and Internet Access

When you arrive, you must place your bags in a locker on the ground floor.  You do not need any coins for the locker.  You can take laptops (there are outlets at all tables in the reading room), notebooks and folders up to the reading room, but only pencils, no pens.  If you apply for a readers’ ticket you will get access to the library’s wifi network, although there is visitors wifi available in parts of the building as well.

Scanning, Photocopying and Photographing Material

The National Library of Ireland has a room where you can scan or photograph material, you are not permitted to photograph material on the reading room floor.  You can also make copies of newspapers, other sources on microfilm and from the digitised parish registers from a number of terminals throughout the library, for which you will require a copy card costing €2 or €1.  Copies from parish registers cost 10c and those from newspapers can cost 50c per page.  You can purchase a copy card in the Reference Room behind the main counter in the Reading Room.

  • National Library of Ireland

    Found a manuscript, newspaper, journal or publication in the National Library?
    Unable to access in person?

    Our Genealogy Clerk team can look up and copy specific items on your behalf.
    Just fill in the form below with your enquiry and press the "Send" button.
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Kildare Street
Dublin 2
D02 TR76

Email Address
[email protected]
Opening Hours