Church Records

Given that Ireland had no full civil registration system until 1864 and all but all our 19th century census records have been destroyed, Church records form a vital part of our genealogical past.

It is important to have some knowledge of what religion your ancestors may have been before we consider examining church records.

Roman Catholic Church records are available on microfilm in the National Library for almost all parishes. However, given the beleaguered history of the Church in the 18th century, many parishes’ records only begin in the early, to mid, 1800s. Roman Catholic Parishes kept baptism and marriage registers, but rarely burial records.

Many registers were kept in Latin but are not especially difficult to interpret as the same type of information is repeated for each entry.

Early registers for baptisms will show little more than the date of baptism, the name of the child and the name of the parents and sponsors (godparents). The maiden name of the mother is often given which can prove very useful.John & Harriet Bragg

More contemporary registers will often give the address of the family and the occupation of the father. Likewise with marriages, early registers will tend to just give the date of the marriage, the names of the bride and groom and the names of the witnesses. Contemporary registers often contain a wealth of additional information including addresses and occupations, together with names (and maiden names) for both parents of the couple.


Church of Ireland Records are often held by the Representative Church Body at its library in Churchtown, Dublin. More are held in local parish custody.

However, and most sadly, many Church of Ireland records are lost to us. As the Established (State) Church, they were required to deposit their registers with the Public Records Office. At least half of all parishes complied with this order without retaining any local copy - and their records were destroyed in the 1922 fire.

Church of Ireland records, where they remain, tend to include burial registers in addition to baptism and marriage registers.

Despite being the Established Church, parishes were not obliged to have any standardised format. Registers will contain similar information to those of the Roman Catholic Church.

However, unlike Roman Catholic Registers, baptism registers will not give the mother’s maiden name but will often give the address of the family and sometimes the occupation of the father.

Marriage registers, similarly, will never give information about the mothers of the bride and groom but tend to give addresses.


Presbyterian & Methodist baptisms and marriages before the early 1800s were often recorded in Church Of Ireland registers.

The Public Records Office of Northern Ireland has microfilmed copies of most Ulster Presbyterian and Methodist registers. Other registers can be harder to track down as they tend to be held by local congregations which did not necessarily fall inside specific geographic boundaries.

Records for Quaker, Jewish and other religious communities also exist in Ireland.


Irish Family Footsteps can undertake research of Church Records on your behalf. Please complete our Assessment Form for a quote.