Ancestry has just launched the Irish Catholic Parish Registers collection containing over 10 million baptism, marriage and death records, covering every diocese in Ireland. For anyone with Irish ancestry, this is an incredibly exciting collection.
The parish registers along with the Irish Census (1901/1911), Irish Civil Registers (birth, marriage, death) and land records (Griffith, Tithe Books) form the backbone of Irish family history research all the way from the 17th to the 20th century.
This collection provides unprecedented coverage in time of Irish records with the earliest records dating from the late 1600s all the way until the early 20th century. Compare this, for example, with the civil registers which start in the 1860s. In many cases, the parish registers are the only written record for earlier periods in Irish history.
Beyond the range and breadth of the collection there is so much great detail contained in these records. There are family relationships, maiden names for mothers and wives and names of sponsors (God parents) and witnesses which may provide clues to other relationships. In addition, many priests recorded other details. The local parish priest was at the heart of these communities and would make notes of relevant information.
Look at this record above for my great grand aunt Brigid Wise. I can see her parents William and Mary (Gulielmus and Maria in Latin). I can also see my great great grandmother Mary’s maiden name Sutton. But take a look at the note on the top of the record. It shows that Brigid married Joseph Carroll in Cabinteely parish in 1919. This fits with what I know about William and Mary moving from Wexford to Dublin around the turn of the century. As you can see this one record provides evidence for many aspects of my great great grandparent’s lives; their names, my great great grandmother’s maiden name and also evidence of my great great grandparents’ move to Dublin.
And that is just one record. All eight of my great grandparents are in this collection along with their siblings. All sixteen of my great great grandparents are in there. Whole generations of my family history are contained in this collection. When I was younger to find these records I spent days hunched over a microfilm reader, or ringing up parish priests and asking if I could search through their local registers. Now all that information is indexed and available at my fingertips. And with a click I can save it all to my tree. Yes this is a very exciting collection.