Catholic parish regester.

Catholic Parish Registers at the NLI


With the great excitement now of the indexing of the parish registers, we are all more enthused than ever about tracking down our families. Of course these records have been on microfilm in the National Library for the longest time, and since last summer images were on the Library’s website.  We know, from your feedback, that people have been somewhat intimidated by the registers; the acres of handwritten print; the illegiblity etc, These are simply facts of life for us researchers, (and the reason why many of us wear glasses!). It can take a bit of slogging to get through some of the registers.


Some of you will have been lucky enough to have very legible parish registers, with a priest generous with his recording.  Others of us are not so lucky.


Now, with the indexing, we can more easily search for the parish records we seek. It is important, as we all excitedly set off, to remember the rules still apply, and to follow the clues as laid out to us.  If we have been fortunate enough to learn the name of our ancestor’s parent, be it a father ‘s name from a civil marriage record, or from a census entry, then our search of parish registers is for the named ancestor, son or daughter of that parent.  It is easy to get carried away and to make connections between our ancestors and others of the same name we see in the registers.  But the rules of evidence still apply! In order for someone to be, for example, a sibling of your ancestor, they must have at least one of the same parents.


Given our settlement patterns in Ireland, we are going to see many instances of the same names in the parish registers.  The challenge is not to jump to conclusions, and to weigh up the evidence of a connection between our ancestors and others of the same name, we see in their parish registers.

But most of all, enjoy the search!

By Carmel Gilbride,

Expert Researcher

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