Best Genealogy Websites for Researching Irish Ancestors

Irish Genealogy Databases on the Web

Researching your Irish ancestors online can be difficult as there is no one-stop website with vast quantities of Irish family history records. Yet many sites offer valuable data for researching Irish ancestry in the form of extractions, transcriptions and digitized images. The sites presented here offer a mix of free and subscription-based (pay) content, but all represent major sources for online Irish family tree research.

1
FamilySearch

Sheep grazing on hillside, Blasket islands, County Kerry, Ireland
FamilySearch hosts millions of free digitized records for Irish research. Getty / Credit: George Karbus Photography

Irish civil registration indexes 1845-1958, plus parish records of births (baptisms), marriages and deaths have been transcribed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and can be searched for free on their Web site at FamilySearch.org. Browse to "Ireland" from the "Search" page, and then search each database directly for best results. A wealth of digitized records that have not yet been indexed are also available for free for portions of Ireland. Coverage is by no means complete, but it is a good place to start. Another search trick is to use Ireland IGI Batch Numbers to search the International Genealogical Index - see Using IGI Batch Numbers for a tutorial. Free

2
FindMyPast

Explore the largest online collection of Irish records at FindMyPast
Explore the largest online collection of Irish records at FindMyPast. M Timothy O'Keefe / Photolibrary / Getty

Subscription-based website FindMyPast.ie, a joint venture between Findmypast and Eneclann, offers over 2 billion Irish records, including some which are exclusive to the site such as Landed Estate Court Rentals with details on over 500,000 tenants residing on estates across Ireland, Irish Prison Registers featuring over 3.5 million names, Poverty Relief Loans, and Petty Session Order Books. The 1939 Register is also available with a world subscription. Additional Irish genealogy records include the complete Griffith's Valuation, over 10 million searchable Catholic parish registers (the index can be searched for free without a subscription), millions of Irish directories and newspapers, plus military records, BMD indexes, census records, and almanacs. Subscription, pay-per-view

3
National Archives of Ireland

Research your Irish ancestors at the Ireland National Archives in Dublin.
Research your Irish ancestors at the Ireland National Archives in Dublin. Getty / David Soanes Photography

The genealogy section of the National Archives of Ireland offers several free searchable databases, such as the Ireland-Australia Transportation Database, along with finding aids to many useful record series held in the National Archives. Of special interest is their digitization of Irish 1901 and 1911 census records which are complete and available online for free access. Free

4
IrishGenealogy.ie - Civil Registers of Births, Marriages and Deaths

 This website hosted by the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs is home to a variety of Irish records, but most especially serves as home to the historic registers and indexes to the Civil Registers of Births, Marriages and Deaths.

5
RootsIreland: Irish Family History Foundation

Celtic crosses and old stone church in County Clare, Ireland.
This subscription-based Irish resource brings together data from 34 county genealogy centres on the island of Ireland, with a special focus on Catholic and other church records of baptisms, marriages, and burials. Getty / Credit: Michael Interisano / Design Pics

The Irish Family History Foundation (IFHF) is a nonprofit coordinating body for a network of government approved genealogical research centres in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Together these research centres have computerized almost 18 million Irish ancestral records, primarily church records of baptisms, marriages, and burials, and made the indexes available online for free. To view a detailed record you can purchase credit online for instant access at a per-record cost. Free index searches, pay to view detailed records

6
Ancestry.com - Irish Collection, 1824-1910

Subscription-based Ancestry.com hosts a wide variety of Irish records and databases, including a large collection of Irish parish registers.
Subscription-based Ancestry.com hosts a wide variety of Irish records and databases, including a large collection of Irish parish registers. Getty / PhotoviewPlus

The Ireland subscription-based collection at Ancestry.com offers access to several important Irish collections, including Griffiths Valuation (1848-1864), Tithe Applotment Books (1823-1837), Ordnancy Survey Maps (1824-1846) and the Lawrence Collection of Irish Photographs (1870-1910). Subscription, plus Irish census, vital, military, and immigration records.

7
AncestryIreland

Ruins of Duluce Castle in County Antrim, Northern Ireland
AncestryIreland focuses on genealogy research in the ancient Irish county of Ulster consisting, in part, of present-day Northern Ireland, including County Antrim, pictured here. Getty / Carl Hanninen

The Ulster Historical Foundation offers subscription-based access to more than 2 million genealogical records from Ulster, including birth, death, and marriage records; gravestone inscriptions; censuses; and street directories. Matheson's Distribution of Surnames in Ireland in 1890 is available as a free database. Most of the rest are available as pay-per-view. Select databases are only available to members of the Ulster Genealogical & Historical Guild. Subscription, pay-per-view

8
Irish Newspaper Archives

Select historical newspapers dating as early as 1738 can be accessed through an online subscription to Irish Newspaper Archives.
Select historical newspapers dating as early as 1738 can be accessed through an online subscription to Irish Newspaper Archives. Getty / Hachephotography
A variety of newspapers from Ireland's past have been digitized, indexed and made available for searching online through this subscription-based site. Searching is free, with a cost for viewing/downloading the pages. The site currently features over 1.5 million pages of newspaper content, with another 2 million in the works from papers such as The Freeman's Journal (1763 to 1924), Irish Independent (1905 to 2003) and The Anglo-Celt (1908 to 2001). Subscription

9
Emerald Ancestors

Emerald Ancestors is one of the largest sources of records for researching ancestors from Northern Ireland.
Emerald Ancestors hosts over 1 million records from Northern Ireland. Getty / Education Images / UIG

This extensive Ulster genealogy database contains baptism, marriage, death, burial, and census records for over 1 million Irish ancestors in Counties Antrim, Armagh, Down, Fermanagh, Londonderry and Tyrone. Most database results are indexes or partial transcriptions. Very few new records have been added in recent years, however. Subscription

10
Failte Romhat

Was your ancestor a flax grower? Agricultural workers harvest flax to make linen at Killinchy in County Down, Northern Ireland, c. 1948.
Was your ancestor a flax grower? Agricultural workers harvest flax to make linen at Killinchy in County Down, Northern Ireland, c. 1948. Getty / Merlyn Severn / Stringer

The personal Web site of John Hayes might not be the first place you'd expect to visit, but his site actually offers a surprising number of online Irish databases and transcribed documents, including Land Owners in Ireland 1876, Irish Flax Growers List 1796, Pigot & Co's Provincial Directory of Ireland 1824, cemetery transcriptions and photographs, and much more. Best of all, it is all free!

11
National Archives – Famine Irish Collection

The U.S. National Archives holds material on individuals who fled Ireland for America during the Irish Potato Famine, 1846–1851.
The U.S. National Archives holds material on individuals who fled Ireland for America during the Irish Potato Famine, 1846–1851. Getty / verbiphotography.com
The U.S. National Archives has two online databases of information on immigrants who came to America from Ireland during the Irish famine, covering the years 1846 to 1851. The "Famine Irish Passenger Record Data File" has 605,596 records of passengers arriving in New York, about 70% of whom came from Ireland. The second database, "List of Ships that Arrived at the Port of New York During the Irish Famine," gives background detail on the ships that brought them over, including the total number of passengers. Free

12
Fianna Guide to Irish Genealogy

In addition to excellent tutorials and guides for researching ancestry in Ireland Fianna also offers transcriptions from a variety of primary documents and records. Free

13
Irish War Memorials

This beautiful site presents an inventory of war memorials in Ireland, along with inscriptions, photographs and other details of each memorial. You can browse by location or war, or search by surname. Free

14
"Missing Friends" Irish Advertisements in the Boston Pilot

This free collection from Boston College includes the names of approximately 100,000 Irish immigrants and their family members contained in nearly 40,000 "Missing Friends" advertisements which appeared in the Boston "Pilot" between October 1831 and October 1921. Details about each missing Irish immigrant may vary, including such items as the county and parish of their birth, when they left Ireland, the believed port of arrival in North America, their occupation, and a range of other personal information. Free

15
Northern Ireland Will Calendars

The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland hosts a fully searchable index to the will calendar entries for the three District Probate Registries of Armagh, Belfast and Londonderry, covering the periods 1858-1919 and 1922-1943 and part of 1921. Digitized images of full will entries 1858-1900 are also available, with the rest to come. Free

16
The Irish Genealogist Names Index and Database

The Irish Genealogist (TIG), the journal of the Irish Genealogical Research Society (IGRS), has been published annually since 1937 with Irish family histories, pedigrees, leases, memorial inscriptions, deeds, newspaper extracts and transcripts of parish registers, voters lists, census substitutes, wills, letters, family bibles, rentals and militia & army rolls. IRGS's genealogy database allows you to search the free online names index to TIG (over a quarter of a million names). Scanned images of the journal’s articles are now being added and linked, with volume 10 of TIG now online (covering the years 1998–2001). Additional images will continue to be added.