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National Libraries Ireland Catholic Parish Website
National Libraries Ireland Catholic Parish Website

Collating the Parish Records

Microfilming

In the 1950’s the National Library of Ireland began the work of microfilming Catholic parish registers of births and marriages. The partnership of library and Church hierarchy has ensured the permanent preservation of these invaluable genealogical records.

Scope of the Microfilm Collection

The majority of parishes in the whole of Ireland are covered and the NLI now hold microfilm copies of over 3,500 registers. While the Civil Records start at 1864, these written records vary depending on how the individual books have survived. Some city parishes such Cork and Galway start in the 1740’s while counties such as Kildare and Wexford start in the 1780’s. The cut-off date for the microfilming was 1880.

Digitisation of the Parish Records

In 2010 the decision was taken to digitise these microfilm records. In 2014 the images went online on a dedicated free website. This has opened a whole new avenue of research for genealogists around the world.

National Libraries Ireland Catholic Parish Website Home Page
National Libraries Ireland Catholic Parish Website Home Page

Accessing the Parish Records Online

Finding Your Parish

Go to the online Parish registers at https://registers.nli.ie/.

Access to the information is via the parish name. If you are uncertain there is a map which shows the dioceses and Catholic parishes in a particular area. Once you have typed in the parish required, the records available will be listed. Again due to historical events and preservation conditions not all parishes will have a complete set of records. A small number of post 1880 parishes will not be on the website, so it may be advisable to contact the parish directly in these cases.

National Libraries Ireland Catholic Parish Website Map
National Libraries Ireland Catholic Parish Website Map

Using the NLI Parish Register Website

These documents were handwritten and legibility can vary however, there is a zoom and brightness facility. Also be aware that some Priests recorded Christian names in Latin (see sample list below) at the foot of this article.

It is possible to print and share an image. If you know the birth or marriage date or have a general idea, you can click on the Filter icon on the top left of the screen and choose a year and month. This will bring you to the relevant page in the register more quickly.

What is Recorded in the Registers?

These are Church recordings and do not give as much information as the later Civil Records. Birth entries will show the baby’s first name(s), surname, parents’ names (including mum’s maiden name), date and witnesses.

Marriage records will give the name of the groom (the sponsus) and the bride’s name (the sponsa). It will also list the date and the names of the two witnesses. Sometimes the record will also give the name of the celebrant, the location where the couple live and the amount paid towards the ceremony.

All these registers belonged to the parish, occasionally you can come across odd entries depending on the whim or interests of the Parish Priest. One such instance I came across in my own family search is contained at the start of the parish register for Ballymena 1866-1881. The priest has written what he calls a “Catholic Census” of the town. It lists all his parishioners by their address, gives their age and their family relationship. He also records if they have received the Sacraments and whether or not they are regular church-goers – complete with some rather embarrassing comments!

See also:

Tracing Your Irish Family Tree

Contact Information:

National Library of Ireland
7 – 8 Kildare Street, Dublin 2
Tel +153 1 603 02 00

Website: www.nli.ie

Sample Latin Names

Boy’s Names
Adrian – Hadrianus
Andrew – Andreas
Anthony – Antonius
Arthur – Arthurus
Bernard – Bernardus

Benedict – Benedictus
Brendan – Brendanus
Charles – Carolus
Colin – Colandus
Daniel – Daniele

Derek – Theodoricus
Dominic – Dominicus
Edmund – Edmundus
Edward – Eduardus
Eugene/Owen – Eugenius

Francis – Franciscus
Frederick – Fridericus
George – Georgius
Gerald – Geraldus
Harold – Haraldus

Henry – Henricus
Hugh – Aedus or Hugo
James – Jacomus
John – Johannes
Joseph – Iosephus

Kevin – Coemgenus
Laurence – Laurentius
Luke – Lucius
Malachy – Malachias
Mark – Marcus

Martin – Martinus
Matthew – Matthaeus
Michael – Michaelis
Nicholas – Nicolaus
Patrick – Patricius

Paul – Paulus
Peter – Petrus
Philip – Philippus
Raymond – Reimundus
Richard – Ricardus

Robert – Robertus
Roger – Rogerius
Simon – Simonis
Stephen – Stephanus
Terence – Terentius

Thomas – Thomasum
Vincent – Vincentius
William – Gulielmus
Girls Names
Amy – Amata
Agnes – Agna or Agneta
Alice – Alicia
Ann – Anna
Bridget – Brigitta

Carol – Carola
Catherine – Catharina
Cecilia – Cisley or Cecily
Clare – Clara
Denise – Dionysia

Eleanor – Eleonara
Elizabeth – Elisabetha
Faith – Fides
Grace – Gratia
Heather – Erica

Helen – Helena
Jane – Johanna
Josephine – Ioephina
Louise – Ludovica
Lucy – Lucia

Margaret – Margarita
Martha – Marta
Mary – Maria
Matilda – Mathilda
Nora – Honorah

Rose – Rosa
Sarah – Sara
Teresa – Theresia
More names can be found at Wiktionary.org
Latin versions of common names

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