RootsTech, Day 2.2 – Digitization of Irish Records

Brian Donovan of Eneclann presented a session on efforts to digitize Irish records. He began with a brief history of the records in the country, covering the 1922 destruction of the public records office, which resulted in the destruction of pre-1851 censuses, more than half of the available parish registers and pre-1700 records.

The destruction didn’t stop there. Bureaucratic decisions destroyed later census records. Irish apathy also led to the disappearance of value genealogical resources.

Then Donovan turned to more hopeful news about current efforts to digitize those records that are still available.

The Irish Genealogical Project at www.Irish-roots.ie provides and index only, no images, of many parish registers, civil and census records, tithe books, primary valuation and more.

Irishgenealogy.ie, an initiative of the Department of Tourism, also is working on parish registers, but not all counties are represented.

The National Library, at www.irishorigins.com, has the Griffiths valuation for 1846 & 1852 available.

There are several new initiatives coming along. FamilySearch may have tithe records from 1823-1837. A tithe was a religious tax collected by then established church of the time. Household list akin to census enumerations are provided in theses records.

The National Library has a RFP out to digitize microfilm records. The ETA on this is unknown.

Eneclann has several projects in the works. Sign up for their e-newsletter to find out how to access the below databases as they come online. Their web site is www.Eneclann.ie.

In May, records from the landed estates court, which sold land from bankrupt estate owners, will go online. These records include mortgage and “portions” from the mid-19th century (1848-1852). The list of renters numbers 600,000.

Prison registers, which give details about relatives and victims, will go online on this summer. Ireland had the most prisons per population in Europe and millions of prisoners.

Petty Sessions, which are just like it sounds (think the Judge Judy of 19th-early 20th century Ireland), included criminal and civil cases. There are 15 million cases to 1910. These I’ll be available in about a year.

Dog license books! More pertinent than they sound. Every farmer had a dog and had to have a license. These records include their name, address and more. I missed the ETA on this project.

The Irish Revolutionary period was 1912-23. Of course, it was a very emotional period for Irish. The police records from the period are fascinating (they tracked everyone). They include mug shots, Volunteer records (private army raised against revolutionaries), and Army records (including search and raid records, court martials, intel files). Also missed the ETA on this one.

Eneclann is launching a new site on 3/17. Stay tuned!

One important reminder that Donovan mentioned: Many Irish changed religious affiliation for economic, legal reasons and many Protestants reverted back to Catholicism after impediments to owning land, etc., were lifted. Don’t let assumptions about your ancestors limit your searches!

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