The National Library of Ireland have just launched the collection from their most ambitious digitisation programme to date. Over 390,000 digital images from the entire collection of Catholic parish register microfilms are now available online for free.
The NLI has been working on digitising the parish register records for the last three years. The records are considered the single most important source of information on Irish family history prior to the 1901 Census. Dating from the 1740s to the 1880s, they cover 1,091 parishes throughout the island of Ireland, and consist primarily of baptismal and marriage records.
Ciara Kerrigan, who managed the digitisation of the parish registers, said: “We announced initial details of this project last December, and received a hugely enthusiastic response from people worldwide with an interest in Irish family history."
While the microfilms have been available to visitors to the National Library since the 1970s, Kerrigan said that this is the "most significant ever genealogy project in the history of the NLI" because now anyone can access the records from anywhere in the world without having to travel to Dublin.
The parish registers include information such as the dates of baptisms and marriages, and the names of the key people involved, including godparents or witnesses. The digital images of the registers will be searchable by parish location only. There won't be transcripts or indexes but local family history centres will have the indexes and transcripts for their area.
"Those who access our new online resource will be able to cross-reference the information they uncover, and identify wider links and connections to their ancestral community by also liaising with the relevant local family history centre, ” Kerrigan explained.
You can access the records at the NLI website.