The entire collection of Catholic parish register microfilms held by the National Library of Ireland – www.nli.ie – will be made available free online from July 8, it has been confirmed.
On that date, a dedicated website will go live, with over 390,000 digital images of the microfilm reels on which the parish registers are recorded.
The National Library of Ireland (NLI) has been working to digitise the microfilms for over three years under its most ambitious digitisation programme to date.
The parish register 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.
NLI’s Ciara Kerrigan, who is managing 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.
“This is the most significant ever genealogy project in the history of the NLI. The microfilms have been available to visitors to the NLI since the 1970s. However, their digitisation means that, for the first time, anyone who likes will be able to access these registers without having to travel to Dublin.”
Typically, 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, and will not be transcribed or indexed by the NLI.