, , , , , , , , ,

Scanned microfilm of Irish Catholic parish registers are indexed and searchable by parish for FREE to browse on the National Library of Ireland. The records can be further filtered by date and event (baptism/marriage) by using the filter on the top left hand corner. Browsing the area of the markers will display the results for that date.

The same records transcribed & indexed and are FREE to search on FindMyPast…

The records span the period from when record keeping commenced until the 1880’s.

Know the Parish

There are 1,086 parishes throughout the island of Ireland.  To find an Irish ancestor in these records it is necessary to know in which parish s/he was baptised / married.

The religious divisions in Ireland are Parishes, Dioceses and Archdiocese – see how they are broken down on Wikipedia.

Civil and Religious Boundaries Differ

It is important to note that Catholic dioceses and parishes in Ireland may not conform with any civil or political border.  At present, Irish records found on FamilySearch etc are most likely civil records and fall within Poor Law Union (PLU)/Dispensary Districts


The registers are indexed by catholic parish, these boundaries can be viewed on the home page of the NLI site and can be cross referenced on SWilson.

Record Periods

Not all parishes began their records at the same time, nor did individual parishes begin recording baptism and marriage at the same time. For information on periods of cover of individual parish records see NLI for details

Note: civil parishes and religious parishes in Ireland may have DIFFERENT boundaries. Births & marriages found on civil registers will refer to a ‘Registration District’ / ‘Poor Law Union’ (PLU).

Use Maps


Using the ‘Historic 6″‘ layer on OSI Map Viewer scaled to 1:10000 or greater, it’s possible to view civil parish boundaries and their names – this map can then be cross-referenced with a map displaying catholic parish boundaries and browse to the research date

Keep in mind the Local Government (Ireland) Act of 1898 changed many county borders, see SWilson’s excellent article for a comprehensive list of changes on Alterations to County Borders in Ireland – 1898

Use Other Records

Trawling through NLI Registers is time consuming – use them in conjunction with your own family tree data, try to place your ancestors on a map by checking  other available records for the period FamilySearch, Irish Genealogy, Irish Census, Griffith’s Valuation, the Tithe Applotments and any other database local to the area of your ancestors.

Refer back to the OSI map listed above to establish the parish / townland / street