Irish census records are fragmented or non-existent for the most part. Very little exists from the 19th century and a 100 year rule is applied to more recent years
Search Irish Census Free
The only ‘almost’ complete census are for the years 1901 and 1911 and are available on the National Archives of Ireland to browse and search FREE and are extensive, especially if you consider all the forms and information they contain
Ireland’s First Census – 1821 – Census Fragments
The 1821 census was taken on 28 May 1821 only a few surviving remnants for Counties Armagh, Cavan, Fermanagh, Galway, Meath and Offaly still exist
Only a few surviving remnants for Co Derry survive of the 1831 census
The 1841 census was taken on 6 June 1841. Only one complete set of original returns, for the Parish of Killeshandra in County Cavan still exist
Information on 1851 census was gathered on 30 March 1851. Some County Antrim parishes and a list of heads of households for Dublin City survive
The 1861 and 1871 census were destroyed soon after they were taken, there’s still a transcript of the 1871 census for Catholics in the Parishes of Drumcondra and Loughbraclen in County Meath, these are available on the National Library of Ireland‘s Catholic Parish Records
Census for 1881 and 1891 censuses are believed to have been pulped during the first World War.
Complete Census Ireland
The 1901 census was taken on 31st March 1901. The 1911 census was taken on 2nd April 1911. See a complete overview of information gathered in these census and a list of the missing streets and townlands of the 1911 census
These census are based on DED’s (District Electoral Divisions) and civil parishes which in most instances are different from catholic parishes, they are searchable on ALL information fields
No census was taken in 1921 due to the War of Independence.
First Census of the Irish Free State
In 1926, the first census was taken of the population of the Irish Free State, but those records will not be available to public access until 2027
Irish Census Searching Tips
If you cannot find the name you are researching in the transcribed census online and if you know the document number; Shane Wilson’s search tool on IrelandGen.com is very useful as it allows you to scroll through the census documents page by page to find names / townlands / streets that have been digitised but not yet transcribed or are not otherwise easily found through transcription errors or omissions.
How to Use the URL Search Tool
This is the URL from the address bar in the browser of ‘Form A’ for the Ryan family, Residents of House 2 in Moortown (Clonmethan, Dublin) http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/reels/nai000005565/.
- notice the last part of this URL is a unique number nai000005565
- drop ‘nai’ and copy the remainder of the number into this search bar
- this brings up the digitised image
- note a ‘Next’ on the right corner of your screen and a ‘Previous’ on the left corner – these scroll through the digitised images
This can also be useful if you know the area of your ancestors but through misspelling etc are unable to find them