Are you one of the millions of family historians with ancestry from the Emerald Isle? Then you’ve got the “Luck of the Irish!” Ireland is one of the most popular genealogy research topics, and there are tons of resources available online- but don’t get overwhelmed! The keys to unlocking your family’s Irish roots are understanding the research challenges, creating a plan, and locating the records you need. This article features some of the best websites to help you begin the journey to discovering your Irish ancestors!
Ancestry is a great option for Irish research. It’s important to know that Ancestry is a paid subscription site, and a World Explorer membership or higher is needed to view non-U.S. record collections. Ancestry does offer a free trial- and check out this article that provides an in-depth review of Ancestry offerings.
Ancestry’s Ireland family history research page provides a list of their Irish records collections, plus links to additional resources. The Irish Records page provides more information about Ancestry’s collections and divides them into categories (census, military, vital records, etc.). You can also learn about and search within Ancestry’s Irish Records Index and the Irish Records Extraction Database.
Additionally, check out Ancestry’s “Discover the Irish in you” page, which provides a research video tutorial, records search, and information about their Ireland collections-plus you can learn about Ancestry DNA testing and how it could help your Irish research. The Ancestry Support Center also provides tips for finding Irish records and discusses record loss.
MyHeritage is another subscription website that has its own collection of Irish genealogy records. Like Ancestry, MyHeritage has subscription tiers, but does offer a free trial- check out our review of MyHeritage for details.
Learn more about MyHeritage’s Irish collections and give their search tool a try, plus learn some facts about Irish heritage and how MyHeritage’s DNA offerings could help your research. The Knowledge Base has a detailed article on How to Trace Your Irish Genealogy. Learn more tips and tricks on the MyHeritage Blog.
FamilySearch is one of the most well-known genealogy websites. Simply create a free FamilySearch account to access a massive database of U.S. and international records, plus video tutorials, research guides, and much more- no paid subscription necessary!
A good place to start is the FamilySearch Wiki, a virtual encyclopedia of genealogy topics. The Ireland Genealogy page is full of research information, links to each Ireland county, a list of video tutorials, an interactive map, and much more!
This Wiki page also notes an important aspect of Irish research- after 1922, Ireland was divided into Ireland (its own country) and Northern Ireland (the 6 northernmost counties which became part of the United Kingdom). If you are researching ancestors that immigrated from Northern Ireland in the 20th century, be sure to review the Northern Ireland Genealogy Wiki.
Other helpful Ireland Wiki pages include Ireland Research Tips and Strategies, which addresses the challenges in researching Irish ancestors prior to 1864- many records prior to this date were destroyed, and special research techniques may be needed to locate your ancestors. Also check out the Ireland Genealogy Websites Wiki for a fantastic list of resources. The Ireland Online Genealogy Records Wiki lists the Irish record collections available on FamilySearch, as well as on other websites- be sure to bookmark this page.
The Ireland Research page on FamilySearch also provides a list of relevant collections, provides a link to helpful Irish research videos in the FamilySearch Learning Center, and allows you to search through their indexed Ireland records- all in one place. The FamilySearch Blog also provides tips for finding Irish vital records.
GenealogyBank specializes in digitized newspapers, but also has its own collection of Irish genealogy records. Check out their search feature to get a sneak peek of their collections, plus learn about their collection of Irish American newspapers. To learn about GenealogyBank’s free trial and subscription services, check out this article.
Lastly, make sure to bookmark Cyndi’s List, one of the biggest collections of genealogy websites on the internet! Check out the massive list of Irish research website links, plus a comprehensive list of links to “how to” strategies.
Websites with a focus on Irish Research
There are many websites out there devoted to Irish research and records. Here are some of the best, must-visit sites to enrich your family history.
- IrishGenealogy.ie: This free website is operated by the Ireland Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht (preserving the Irish language), Sports and Media, and is the home of the online Indexes of the Civil Registers of Births, Marriages, Civil Partnerships, and Deaths- plus numerous church records. Also check out the “Family Research 2016” page, an educational website that can teach you all about researching Irish ancestors.
- RootsIreland: maintained by the Irish Family History Foundation, contains over 22 million records, including an extensive collection of Irish Catholic records. They also have other record sets including passenger lists, and Griffiths’ Valuation records. You can narrow your records search by county, making it easier to find the information you need. RootsIreland is a subscription website, with options ranging from 1-day to 12-month.
- The Ireland National Archives provides a wealth of helpful guidance to genealogists, including guides on how to research your family history, a free genealogy advisory service, and free access to digitized records! If you are planning a future trip to Dublin, there are also resources to help you plan a visit to the National Archives in person.
- FindMyPast has over 140 million Irish family history records, making them one of the largest repositories of Irish genealogy online. They have many unique record sets, including court records, Poverty Relief Loan records, and even dog license registers- leading them to create a subscription option just for Irish researchers. FindMyPast offers a 14-day free trial to see if a paid subscription is a good fit for your needs.
- John Grenham’s research website: Grenham is the author of Tracing Your Irish Ancestors, and his research website provides search tools for surnames and places, interactive maps, articles, genealogy links, and more.
- GENUKI is an online resource for Ireland and United Kingdom genealogy research. Here you can find information on a range of topics, from church history to newspapers, to social live & customs. GENUKI also has a searchable place name gazetteer, where you can find demographic and historical information about your ancestor’s home town or parish.
- The Ulster Historical Foundation maintains a database of over 2 million records, including vital records, census records, and street directories. They also have publications for sale in their online store, and offer educational lectures and speaking tours.
- The Irish Genealogical Society International is based in Minnesota, but offers many resources to online visitors, including an eNewsletter, blog, and research links. Members gain access to their webinar archive.
- The National Library of Ireland hosts a free, digitized collection of Roman Catholic parish registers dating from the 1740s to the 1880s. They are not indexed, so you will need to know as much detail as possible about your ancestor’s baptism or marriage- or use indexed information from other sources as a guide.
- Lastly, for those with ancestors hailing from Northern Ireland counties, be sure to check out the General Register Office of Northern Ireland (GRONI) – and the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI). GRONI offers a online database of civil registration records, including births, marriages and deaths from 1864. You must purchase one “credit” (about 60 cents) in order to search through the free databases. Additional information may require further fees. PRONI contains some lesser-known record sets, including street directories, coroner’s inquest papers, Freeholders Records, and Valuation Revision Books- many of which predate the 1864 record loss, and are free to search!