Irish Birth Records On Ancestry

Ancestry has nearly twenty collections of Irish birth records that you can browse and search through.

These are broadly split between civil and parish records. The civil records come from state archives. The parish records are baptisms from Church registers.

This article will point you towards the best and most comprehensive collections. We’ll also give you tips on dealing with the massive index to civil records, which can be a little difficult to use.

Sources For Irish Birth Records On

One of the reasons why there are several different collections on Ancestry is that it has prepared digital archives from multiple sources.

Some of the sources and archives are of better quality than others. I’ll point these out throughout this article. Here’s a rundown of the sources.

General Records Office

The General Records Office of Ireland (GRO) is in charge of the civil birth registration records for the state.

They keep copies of every birth certificate issued since 1864. You can walk into the building in Dublin or order copies over the phone.

They also keep the annual or quarterly indexes to all birth records. It’s the indexes that are digitized and available on some genealogy websites. produced a digitized index of Irish civil birth records. has licensed this collection.

FamilySearch is the massive genealogical archive maintained by the Church of Latter-Day Saints.

Ancestry has licensed several collections from its rival. Unfortunately, these collections don’t have images alongside the transcripts.

National Library Of Ireland

The National Library of Ireland (NLI) is one of the official archive holders of the state.

Their collection of Irish Catholic parish records include baptismal records.

The NLI has licensed and several other organizations to prepare transcripts and indexes from their microfilms.

The great news is that the original images are also available on alongside the transcripts.

Digitized Books And Individual Church Registers

There are individual churches that published their registers as books in the early 1900s. has digitized some of these books. You’ll find that the search results include the image of the page where your search term appears.

Or course, these collections are very narrow in terms of who they apply to. But you could strike lucky!

Irish Civil Birth Records On Ancestry

Civil registration of births has been mandatory since 1864. These records are separate from Church registers.

The collection on Ancestry covers the full island up until the establishment of the Republic of Ireland in 1922.

After that date, the collection is restricted to the 26 counties of the Republic. This excludes six counties in Northern Ireland.

What information is included in a full birth certificate?

Irish birth certificates contain:

  • child’s name and the date of birth
  • place of birth (usually a hospital in the 20th century)
  • names of one or both parents
  • maiden name of a married mother
  • occupation of one or both parents

More recent birth certificates will show you the hospital. But you’ll often see a house birth in older records.

Why don’t I see the full details of Irish birth certificates?

Unfortunately, you won’t get these rich details in this Ancestry collection.

The Ancestry civil marriage records are index records. This means that they have limited details like:

  • child and parent names
  • birth year or quarter (older records only have the year)
  • county and district of registration

The best dates that you get are at the level of the quarter. In other words, you’ll be given three possible months.

And remember, this is the date of registration. It may not necessarily be the birth date.

If you’re working with a common surname, this can make these indexes very challenging to use. Which of the twenty John Ryans born in Cavan in 1901 is your ancestor?

Here’s how to use the information to find out.

Ordering photocopies of the certificates

The record provides the information you need to order photocopies of the birth certificates from the Irish General Records Office.

I stress photocopies! Getting a certified copy costs 20 euros for each document! The uncertified copies are much cheaper.

However, the costs can mount up quickly if your family is full of Ryans, and O’Briens, and Smiths.

Thankfully, there are other birth collections on that can be of great help. These are the parish baptism records.

Read on…

Irish Baptism Records On

There are several different collections of Irish baptisms on Here are the main ones.

Ireland, Catholic Parish Registers, 1655-1915

You will find a near-comprehensive set of Irish Catholic baptism records in a collection titled “Ireland, Catholic Parish Registers, 1655-1915”.

The record transcripts are accompanied by images of the original baptism registers.

This is the biggest of the Catholic Church collections. It covers nearly all parishes in the country.

The index is titled “1655-1915” but most of the parishes only go back to about the 1830s.

The great news is that these records don’t just have the names of the parents and child. They also name the sponsors i.e. the godparents.

Irish godparents are usually family members. Often there will be a sibling of each parent.

If you don’t recognize the surname of a female sponsor, you may be on a new trail for the marriage of one of your relatives.

Ireland, Select Births and Baptisms, 1620-1911

This collection includes Church Of Ireland records as well as Catholic.

It’s a bit of a hodge-podge from FamilySearch that was sourced from microfilms of church and civil records.

The records do not include images.

Ireland, Selections of Catholic Parish Baptisms, 1742-1881

This collection is limited to a small number of parishes, mostly in Meath and Roscommon. There are no images with this collection.

Scroll to the bottom of the page linked above to see which parishes.

Other Collections

There are plenty of other small collections that I won’t go into in detail about.

It’s worth having a browse through the Ancestry catalog while setting the filters to “Ireland” and drilling down to the “birth” subcategory.

I’ll show you how to do that next.

How To Browse The Catalog On

We’ve got a general tutorial on the Ancestry card catalog.

There are plenty of tips in there such as not to bother using the Title search.

My advice for the specific Irish collections is to use the left pane to filter by location and category as follows:

  1. Use “Filter by location” to filter on Ireland.
  2. Choose the category of “Birth, Marriage & Death, including Parish”.
  3. Choose “Birth, Baptism & Christening”

You’ll get about a page of collections. This is short enough to scroll through for ones that catch your eye.

When you click on any of the links, scroll down past the search form to the description at the bottom of the page.

You’ll see a summary of the source, followed by a lengthier description. If the collection is limited to a smaller set of parishes, they will be listed out here.

Margaret created a family tree on a genealogy website in 2012. She purchased her first DNA kit in 2017. She created this website to share insights and how-to guides on DNA, genealogy, and family research.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.