Early Irish Indexes

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What are the Early Irish Indexes?

The Early Irish Birth, Marriage and Death indexes are unique to the Irish Genealogical Research Society. They cover the period 1660 to 1863 and represent many years of diligent transcription from a very wide range of original sources, very few of which are or ever will be found online. Generally speaking, they seek to provide references to unusual original records for the period before civil registration was fully implemented in Ireland in 1864. These include newspapers and journals, land deeds, court bills, army records and old age pension applications. Published works such as biographies and peerages as well as private papers have also been consulted. Parish register entries are not included as indexes, transcriptions and images for these are gradually becoming more readily available online (see our Useful Links page.)

Why were they created?

In the course of researching our family histories, we often come across fragments of information relating to vital events nestled within the pages of documents often designed for another function entirely e.g. marriages and children noted in army records or complex family relationships explained in relation to land transactions or court cases. Diligent IGRS researchers, both past and present have harvested this information and compiled various ad-hoc indexes over the years, some of which have been deposited with the IGRS Library.

In 2012, Roz McCutcheon, Vice-President of the IGRS, noted that “For many years, I have explored the records of the Registry of Deeds in Dublin, a wonderful resource which covers every county in Ireland. However, one of the major drawbacks is that the Registry is very poorly indexed – just under the townlands mentioned and under the name of one of the first parties (grantors). As I slowly read from page to page in the books of memorials, I was constantly struck by how many marriage details were contained therein – and not just in the deeds that were drawn up to record a marriage settlement. Even if the marriages had nothing to do with my own family, they would be most welcome to another researcher, and without an index to all but a few of the vast number of names in the Registry of Deeds, it was very unlikely that other researchers might ever come across this data. So I resolved to note down the marriages as I read, with the intention of eventually loading them into some sort of database. My researches meanwhile took me in many different directions, and I wondered if the database could be widened, to include other collections, – some obvious, like newspaper announcements, and others more obscure, such as the marriages noted in Chancery Bill extracts, family bibles, military records, old age pension claims and many others.

The first index, initially just covering Marriages, was the result and was later joined by complementary Birth and Death indexes. These have been eagerly received as invaluable research aids and the work is very much ongoing, encompassing new original sources and adding to an ever increasing and impressive record count, to which contributions will always be most welcome.

How to Search the Indexes?

As with most online searching, our best advice is always “Less is more!” Putting too much information into all of the available search boxes is likely to return few or no results, so try out combinations of a few things you think you know.

Names in particular may often have different spellings noted. To allow for the vagaries of spelling, try searching just using the first 3 letters of the name. Look also at alternatives, such as: Nolan/Nowlan, Reilly/Riely/Riley, Crowley/Croly. A good guide for alternatives spellings can be found at https://www.johngrenham.com/surnames/.

How to interpret the index entries?

This resource is designed as an index, pointing the researcher towards the actual record, the source of which is indicated by a code explained on our Sources and Where to Find Them below. With such a wide variety of records, the information that can be gleaned is not always complete so here are a few words of wisdom regarding transcription decisions;

  • Remember, no records from 1864 onwards are included, as full Civil Registration is available from that date.
  • Where available the county and town are noted, although the original record may provide more specific address details. Where the source reference does not specify a county, this may have been derived from other information e.g. father’s details in birth announcements. For marriage records, only the county or country of the bride and groom is shown.
  • Counties and occasionally countries are indicated using 3-letter Chapman codes – see the Irish county codes on our Chapman Code page.
  • In some sources, especially newspapers, no first name may be quoted for the birth of a child, but the sex of the child is always recorded.
  • Note too, that in most instances for newspapers, dates given in this index are of publication and not birth as this may not have been recorded.
  • Many dates in the indexes are expressed as, for example, “about the year 1781”. This allows for plus or minus a few months either side of the year noted, but no more than that.
  • In Registry of Deeds records, e.g. marriage settlements, leases, mortgages, trust deeds etc. there may just be an indication that the birth, marriage or death took place before a certain date because that is all that can be logically deduced. Marriages in fact may well have taken place a decade or so earlier. Where several references to the same marriage are included, it is because each record adds a little to the sum of knowledge. One record may note the name of the groom’s father, while another later record may note the bride’s mother. Children nominated as lives in leases may also have their approximate ages quoted, but not always.
  • Where the age of the bride or groom is known, but no other evidence of the date of marriage within that particular record is given, then the bride is assumed to have married at 18 or the groom at 21.
  • Where the bride is known to be unmarried, she is described as “Miss” &, if known to be a widow, as “Widow”. (Note that sometimes an unmarried woman may have been recorded in a parish register in the 1700s as “Mrs”, reflecting her social status rather than her nuptial condition.)
  • Only marriages within Ireland are shown, except where it is fairly evident that the couple, while marrying abroad, will be spending their married life in Ireland.
  • Some of the diocesan Marriage Licence Bond indexes records contain a considerable amount of detail. For instance, in the case of Ossory diocese, addresses are shown, together with parentage and also the religion of the couples, a significant number of whom were Roman Catholic. Ossory Diocese covers most of county Kilkenny and parts of counties Laois, Offaly and Waterford – transcripts of these bonds were published in our journal, the Irish Genealogist, Volume 8.
  • For deaths, as well as the usual fields, covering age at death, county of birth or residence etc, full details are given of a close relation or colleague where possible to aid identification. Maiden names of married women or widows are also quoted if given. Where none of these are available, other notes may help. For instance, 60 year old Eleanor Boyan was buried in 1752 at Whitechurch Graveyard in Co Waterford. No other details were given, but I have noted that she was buried with the Wall Family, which may give a researcher a clue about her origins. In case anyone feels that the early newspapers just covered the “high & mighty”, there are plenty of references to butchers, bakers, nuns, publicans, robbers, washerwomen, murderers and even the occasional gabbard man!

Contributions & Feedback

Contributions to any of the indexes will always be most welcome and can be emailed to the Index Manager.

As with any transcription and indexing of genealogical data, errors may creep in and you can alert our Index Manager to these via the same email address.

Sources and Where to Find Them

Original records may be consulted at the archives or libraries indicated using the reference information quoted in the index entry. Some sources are unique to the IGRS and may be consulted at our library (See our Library page for details.) Copies of other sources, especially published books, may be available in local lending libraries etc. Some sources have been digitised by commercial genealogical companies – check their card catalogues and the details of your subscription to see if you may have online access to them. FamilySearch.org is also an excellent free source of selected original records e.g. Registry of Deeds documents.

Code Explanation Available at:
APC Admiralty Passing Certificates National Archives, Kew, London
ARMY Army records, mainly held at National Archives, Kew, London National Archives, Kew, London
BETH Sir William Bethams’ Will Abstracts & other Manuscripts  
BIBLE Family Bible  
BIFR Burke’s Irish Family Records Copy in IGRS Library
BIOG Biographies in printed works  
BURKE Burke’s Landed Gentry etc Copy in IGRS Library
CAPT Captain Clancy’s Card Index of Marriages gleaned from various sources in the IGRS Library Only at IGRS Library
CEN Census Records  
CHA Chancery Bills  
CHIC Chichester House Claims  
CLER Clergy Succession Lists  
COR A Cork Archives See Archive website catalogue?(delete)
CROLLS Conformity Rolls, annotated by Father Clare. Only at IGRS Library
  ED: Eileen O’Byrne & Anne Chamney  
DIARY Diary & Occurrence Books  
DIB Dictionary of Irish Biography  
DKPRI Reports of the Deputy Keeper of the Public Records in Ireland  
DNB Dictionary of National Biography  
ENG M Miscellaneous records from England  
EXCH Exchequer Bills  
FCCI Father Clare’s Newspaper Index Only at IGRS Library
GUILD Merchant Guild Records National Library of Ireland
IG The Irish Genealogist – Journal of the Irish Genealogical Research Society IGRS Library and selected other academic institutions
IGRS NL IGRS Newsletter – quoting Vol No & Issue No Only at IGRS Library
IR ANC Irish Ancestor, quoting Vol No & Issue No Copies in IGRS Library
JNL Published Journals  
LTR Family letters  
MI Memorial Inscriptions  
MISC O Miscellaneous records from overseas  
MLB Marriage Licence Bond or Grant (noting Diocese)  
MLN Michael Leader Newspaper Collection Only at IGRS Library
NAI National Archives of Ireland  
NEWS Newspaper: Name of Newspaper & Source to be shown, e.g. IG/8/2 = The Irish Genealogist, Volume 8, No 2  
NLI National Library of Ireland National Library of Ireland
OAP Old Age Pension Records National Archives of Ireland
O’KIEF O’Kief, Coshe Mang etc; Cork & Kerry Records in 16 volumes; Full set of copies in IGRS Library
PLAW Poor Law entries  
PREG O Parish Registers from overseas  
PRIV Original records in private keeping  
PRONI Public Record Office of Northern Ireland PRONI, Belfast
PUBL Published books, other than Burke etc, shown elsewhere in this list  
RIA Royal Irish Academy  
RFF Rosemary ffolliott’s Newspaper Collection Copy at IGRS Library
ROD Registry of Deeds – reference given is Book/Page/Number or, after 1832, Year/Page/Number Registry of deeds index project
images of the ariginal records are available through Familysearch
Note the Index project has links to these images.
SCHU Schulze Marriage Register General Register Office, Ireland
SCT M Miscellaneous records from Scotland  
SMY Smythe-Wood Newspaper Abstracts Only at IGRS Library
TCD Trinity College Dublin  
UCC University College Cork  
VIS Visitations of Ireland  
WAL M Miscellaneous records from Wales  
WEB Website with url  
WEL Records taken from the Welply Notebooks  
WILL Wills & Administrations, with source given  

Chapman Codes

The geographical references within this index are based on the Chapman Codes.


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