The Ancestry.com website has nearly twenty different collections of Irish marriage records.
One massive collection is the complete index of Ireland’s civil registration records. The drawback is that it lacks images and enough information to easily identify your relatives. But we’ll give you some tips for this.
Some smaller collections have the original images from the parish registers. These may have details such as parents, witnesses, and home addresses. So, don’t ignore these great sources.
Irish Civil Marriage Records On Ancestry
The Irish civil marriage records are collected and maintained by the State. Civil registration of marriage is obligatory in Ireland. These records are separate from Church registers.
How did Ancestry get this collection?
Ancestry made the Civil Records collection by licensing the archive on FamilySearch.org. Neither website has images or a full transcript of the marriage certificates.
The source records are held at the General Records Office in Ireland. These can be searched in their buildings for free. You can also order certificates online for a fee.
How far back do the marriage records go?
The civil registration of Protestant marriages in Ireland started in 1845. The registration of Catholic marriages started later in 1864.
Church registration precedes these dates, so don’t forget the parish archives. I’ll cover these in a later section.
How recent are the marriage records?
The available index on Ancestry runs up to 1958. If you’re researching your family tree, this is probably far enough.
Irish civil marriage records are public, so the more recent records are available to you. They’re just not indexed on Ancestry (or anywhere else online).
You can contact the General Records Office to order certificates for a fee.
Do the archives cover the full island?
The collection on Ancestry covers the full island up until 1922. After that date, the collection is restricted to the 26 counties of the Republic. This excludes six counties in Northern Ireland.
If you’re not familiar with the history of Ireland, I should explain that the full island was under the British government before 1922.
When the Republic was formed, 26 counties came under the administration of a separate government (the current Irish administration).
Why don’t I see the full details of the marriage certificate?
Irish marriage certificates contain details like the witnesses and the father’s occupation and home address. More recent certificates include the mother’s occupation.
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:
- first and last name
- marriage registration year and quarter (not the exact date)
- county and district of registration
Main drawback of this collection
The main challenge is that the person’s spouse is not in the index record. This makes it more difficult to tell if you’ve got the right record.
However, Ancestry gives you help by listing about seven possible spouses. This will be a mix of men and women, and one of them is the correct husband or wife.
Read on to learn how this works.
How Does Ancestry Help You Identify The Spouse?
The transcript for the marriage of James Gamble doesn’t name his spouse. Instead, it names the volume and page number of the register in which the details were recorded.
The Ancestry display also provides this extra list of the “records on page”:
Who are these people?
These are all the other people who appear on the same page of the registry. One of these is the spouse of James.
But the collection doesn’t have enough information to tell which one is from James’ marriage cert.
How to identify the correct spouse.
So, now I have to go through a process of elimination.
James, himself, is one of the names. Three of the other names are men, so they’re not Grandpa’s spouse either. That leaves four possible women.
I can tell you that the genealogy site Find My Past has the same archive. But they go an extra step of identifying the gender of the names on the list and only presenting you with the men or women.
What if you don’t know the maiden name?
My example has two women named Rose. If I didn’t know the maiden name, then I can’t solely use Ancestry.com to tell which one is correct.
The Ancestry.com record provides the information you need to order photocopies of the marriage certificates from the Irish General Records Office.
I could order a photocopy of the marriage certs of both Rose Smith and Rose Plunkett on this page to see which has my grandfather James.
However, there’s another route to narrowing this down. The church parish records do have the spouse names in the transcripts.
So, you can try looking in the other Ancestry collections to find the parish record corresponding to the civil record index.
Read on to learn more about these other collections.
Irish Catholic Parish Marriage Records On Ancestry.com
Aside from the civil records, there are many other collections on Ancestry that include parish marriage registers.
Many of these have the original images of the pages from the register. This is a great bonus.
The main collection is titled “Catholic Parish Registers” and is licensed from the National Library of Ireland. This is by far the biggest collection and the one to start with.
But that isn’t the only parish record collection. Others focus on a few counties or a small number of parishes. It’s worth browsing through the catalogs to see what’s available.
I’ve written a full article on the Irish Catholic records on Ancestry.com. That will give you an overview of the many collections and point you toward the most useful.
Other Irish Marriage Collections On Ancestry
Other collections include non-Catholic Church records such as Church of Ireland and Quaker registers.
One to look for is titled “Marriages in Walker’s Hibernian Magazine”. This is an index of marriages published in this magazine from 1771 to 1812.
Another small collection is focused on parts of Cork and Kerry. So, if you’re ancestors are from that part of the world, the Casey Collection Indexes are worth checking out.
In general, it’s worth your while browsing through the catalog of Irish marriage collections. It’s only one page of title listings, so it won’t take you long.
We’ve got a general tutorial on how to use the Ancestry card catalog.
But I’ll give you a summary of what to do on the Catalog page.
Steps for filtering
My advice for the specific Irish marriage collections is to follow these filtering steps:
- Start by filtering the location in the left pane to Ireland.
- Choose the category of “Birth, Marriage & Death, including Parish”.
- Filter further on “Marriage & Divorce”.
You will now be presented with a list of linked collections.
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, the locations will be listed out here.