Back on April 10th, FindMyPast announced that they would be adding 100 new databases in the next 100 days. Since FindMyPast has multiple geographic sites, that doesn’t mean all Irish databases, but we’ve already seen the addition of two new record sets for Ireland.
Because of the loss of so many records for Ireland, it’s very important that you focus on the place where your ancestors lived. Many of the records we use in Irish research are available for only a small area. A database can have you doing the happy dance if your ancestor came from that specific area, but many of us will have to forgo some of these databases if our ancestors were from elsewhere.
Census records are one of the tragedies of Irish research. Although they were taken from 1821 forward, only the 1901 and 1911 survive as complete resources. During World War I, the government pulped the 1861 -1891 censuses for the paper. It was a complete destruction and nothing survives. The 1821-1851 censuses were mostly destroyed in the 1922 fire at the Public Records Office at Four Courts. But…there are fragments, just like the US 1890 census, that survive. FindMyPast has indexed these records (number 24) along with the images and put them online. Records survive for parts of Cavan, Fermanagh, Galway, Offaly (Kings) and Meath for 1821; parts of Londonderry for 1831; parts of Cavan in 1841 and parts of Antrim for 1851. This database provides information on 6,000,000 people. The contents vary by year, but you will get name, age, occupation, location and sometimes religion and whether they could read and write.
Another way to access information from the 1841 and 1851 census records is through Census Search Forms filed by those attempting to the Irish Pension System in 1909. Individuals applying had to be 70 years of age in order to be eligible for a pension, but that took them back before civil registration started in 1864. One way to prove their age was to show that they were in the 1841 or 1851 census (this was before the destruction of these records). An individual would file a form requesting that a search be made of one of these censuses and if they were found, the information on the family would be written on the back of the form. If you find someone, scroll to the next record (arrow to the right) in order to see what was written on the back of the form. I found a form for a brother of my great grandmother who requested the search and was not found in the census…because he was not born until 1867 and was only 42! Although he was not in the census, it did tell me where he was living in 1909 and gave me the name of his wife so all was not lost.
You can purchase a subscription to FindMyPast.ie for $9.95 per month, or a World subscription to $19.95 per month. It’s a great way to try the databases and then decide whether you want to extend your subscription for a year.