Irish Birth Marriage and Death Records

Irish birth, marriage and death records contain a wealth of valuable genealogical information. Irish birth, marriage and death records are also known as civil records.  Civil registration of births, marriages and deaths in Ireland commenced in 1864. Non-Catholic marriages had been registered since April 1845.  The following details can be found in Irish birth, marriage and death records.

Irish 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.

Irish Civil Marriage Certificates record:

The date of the event and the church in which the marriage took place.
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 or 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 year of birth for the deceased, although ages on death certificates were not always accurate.

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The indexes and registers for Irish Birth, Marriage and Death records (civil records) for Ireland from 1864 (non-Catholic marriages from 1845) are held by the General Register Office (GRO). You can now search the GRO indexes online at two locations: The Irish Government website or the LDS website  Both sites are free.  (The exact same free index found at can also be found at subscription websites Ancestry  and Findmypast).  If you don’t find the record you are searching for on one site, try the other, as both databases have errors and omissions. 

At you will find the indexes for births (1864-1923), marriages (1864-1948), Non-Catholic marriages (1845-1864) and deaths (1864-1973). All entries up to 1921 relate to the entire island of Ireland.  From 1922, all entries relate to the Republic of Ireland only.  Civil registration records for Northern Ireland from 1922 are available at the General Register Office for Northern Ireland (GRONI).  You will need to purchase credits to see records on the GRONI website. 

At the index entries for births (1864-1923), marriages (1845-1948) and deaths (1871-1973) also contain a link to the image of the original registration, which you can download for free.  If you are looking for a birth certificate for someone born in Ireland in the 1870s, you should be able to download their original birth registration, which will record their date of birth, place of birth and parents names.  From 1900 the mother’s maiden name will also appear in the index, making it easier to locate birth records for a group of siblings.

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This database is not perfect and there are missing records as well as index entries missing links to the original records or incorrect links to the wrong record.   Some first names and surnames have been incorrectly transcribed.  If you don’t find what you are looking for it doesn’t necessarily mean that the record doesn’t exist.  This website can be sensitive to the spelling of surnames and first names.  Catherine Molloy may have married using the name Katie Mulloy, so always try different variant spellings of a first name and surname.   If you know where a birth should have been registered, and approximate time period, it is worth trying a search for the first name only, and scrolling through the results to see if you can identify an incorrect spelling of the surname.  For example, the surname O’Toole, might have been transcribed as O’Poole.  If you continue to be unsuccessful, you might want to try a different database.  For example, if you search the index at and locate a reference that you believe might be relevant,  but cannot find the same entry at, trying locating another birth, marriage or death at that shares the same year, registration district, quarter, volume and page.  See if you can find the other birth at  Open the link to the image and the original entry you want should be found on the same page.

When you are using this site to search for a vital record try to establish the registration district in which the event might have been registered.  A civil registration district, later known as a Superintendent Registrar’s District (SRD) has the same boundaries as a poor law union.  There were usually 3-6 registration districts in each county, and some districts crossed county borders.  There is an excellent map and guide to registration districts on the Irish Genealogy Toolkit website.  If your ancestor married in Kilkenny, they might have married in the registration districts of Callan, Carrick-on-Suir, Castlecomer, Kilkenny, New Ross, Thomastown, Urlingford or Waterford and not just in Kilkenny.

Volunteers from the Church of the Latter Day Saints (LDS) have transcribed the Irish birth, marriage and death records indexes up to 1958 (excluding records from Northern Ireland after 1922) and these are available at Family Search. A copy of the same database is also available at Ancestry and FindMyPast (subscription).  This database includes many more variant spellings of names, so will provide you with a much broader list of results, which can often be helpful.

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.

Irish Births Marriages and Death RecordsIf you are searching for a marriage, the reference details for the bride and groom should be exactly the same, indicating that they both appear on the same page of the marriage register.

On this database the mother’s maiden name will appear on entries after 1928, although in the hard copy index books in the GRO Research Room in Dublin, the mother’s maiden name appears in the indexes from 1900.

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 search for an image of the record at or visit the GRO research room in Dublin to purchase the record, or make an application for the record by email.  Alternatively, you can order a copy using our Irish Genealogy Clerk Service and it will be sent out to you by email within five working days.

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 commissioning a search of the original index books in the GRO. The GRO Research Room in Dublin now offers an email search and copy service.  The search is carried out on their digitised records.

In the original index books, however, there are amendments and late registrations recorded in the margins and at the back of the books. There are also marine deaths and overseas and army births, deaths and marriages indexed in the hard copy index books that are absent from the digitsed collections and a manual search may be required at 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 obtained.

The county genealogy centres run by the Irish Family History Foundation have also indexed a large portion (but not all) of civil records for Ireland.  Their indexes were created from the original local registration books.  Irish births, deaths and marriages were registered in the office of the local Registrar’s District, usually the same as the dispensary district. This record was then copied to the office in Dublin for inclusion in the national index books. In some cases the copy was lost in transit to Dublin, or mis transcribed or a page was missed, and is thus absent from the centralised national index, which is what forms the basis for all of the online collections.  The record may still be found in the local indexes, many of which are available online at (subscription).

Records for Northern Ireland

Between 1845 and 1922 births, marriages and deaths for all counties in Ireland, including what would become Northern Ireland, will be found in the national index described above.  After 1922 Northern Ireland maintained its own records for civil registration.  These records are now available online for births over 100 years old, marriages over 75 years and deaths over 50 years.  You can search and view the original registrations for this period online at the GRONI website.  It is necessary to sign up and purchase credits to undertake a search.

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.  There were also other reasons why parents may not have registered the birth of a child.  The priority for most families was that a child was baptised, registration of the birth was usually a secondary concern.

Parents were also fined if a birth was registered outside of the statutory period of 42 days.  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.  This can sometimes result in a child being baptised several months before their birth.  The date of baptism is actually more accurate and usually took place in the days just after birth.

It was the responsibility of the parish priest or minister to register marriages. In some cases the priest failed to register the event and the marriage won’t be found in the civil index.  When searching the indexes for a marriage, do bear in mind that the bride may have been a widow and the marriage was registered under her first married name, rather than her maiden name.

It is estimated that up to 30% of deaths in Ireland went unregistered, even in the 20th century.  It is not uncommon to find a death was not registered with the civil authorities, even very recently.