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Do you have Irish ancestry?

Irish ancestors? Are you having trouble researching your Irish roots? Family tree research, if you are digging into your Irish ancestors, can be really tricky! Here's why...


As online researchers, we tend to rely on Census data to get us started and unfortunately there is a huge missing section of data in the Irish census records. Although there are other online records available these can often be tricky to read and decipher.


Although Census's were carried out every decade in Ireland during the 19th Century, many of them have sadly been destroyed. The 1st Irish census was taken in 1821 and then continued every 10 years until 1911. So what happened to all this data?


The original census returns for 1861 and 1871 were destroyed shortly after being taken. Followed by the returns for 1881 and 1891 being recycled due to a paper shortage in the first world war.


This left only the early 19th century records, but a fire at the Public Records Office in Dublin in 1922, due to the War of Independence, destroyed the majority of the remaining Census returns.


Irish Public Records Office, Four Courts, Dublin 1922 Fire
Irish Public Records Office, Four Courts, Dublin 1922 Fire


Those that remain are largely from 1821 and 1831 and cover only a few counties. The website Find My Past (amongst others) holds these records digitally.


1821 Census Counties (partial or whole) still available include:

Antrim (33)

Carlow (8)

Cavan (79,930)

Dublin (18)

Fermanagh (9,335)

Galway (12,075)

Kilkenny (11)

King's (16,889)

Limerick (20)

Mayo (21)

Meath (18,754)


1831 Census Counties (partial or whole) still available include:

Londonderry


1841 Census Counties (partial or whole) still available include:

Killeshandra

County Cavan


1851 Census Counties (partial or whole) still available include:

County Antrim


However, there is hope on the horizon! A new project called The Beyond 2022: Irish Virtual Record Treasury aims to retrieve and restore as many of the destroyed records as possible by using duplicates in other archives. Read more in the Irish Times here

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