Weekly Comment:
Irish Genealogy Just
Got a Lot Easier

Records for countless Irish families -- including that of Annie Moore, first to arrive at Ellis Island (seen here with her brothers for the first time colorized) -- are held in this remarkable collection.

By Megan Smolenyak, Contributor
March 1, 2016

Last July, the National Library of Ireland went live with a digitized collection of Irish Catholic parish records from the 1670-1900 time frame, a huge boon for those of Irish heritage. Just one catch. No index. Well, there were a variety of partial indexes scattered here and there on other sites, but no comprehensive one.

In an article published in the Oct/Nov 2015 issue of Irish America magazine, I wrote, “Be patient and wait for the almost inevitable search tools that will appear on other websites. More than likely, one or more genealogy companies such as Ancestry.com, FindMyPast, and MyHeritage began transcribing the records the day they went live.”

Sure enough, both Ancestry and Findmypast released their indexes today. The timing was fairly predictable as today is the beginning of Irish-American Heritage Month.

Celebrity roots found in the parish records of the National Library of Ireland discovered by the author. Top to bottom: Jimmy Fallon, Vice President Joe Biden, Bruce Springsteen, and Stephen Colbert. Originally printed in the October / November 2015 issue of Irish America.

Examples from this collection that ran in Irish America magazine.

The actual records themselves are patchy – some parishes have none, some have records for certain clusters of years (most commonly, a chunk of the 1800s), and so forth. That said, this is a really big deal for those with Irish heritage because – for many – this will go a long way to removing the considerable impediment of having to know exactly where your ancestors came from in Ireland before diving into parish records. In fact, many will now learn where their ancestors came from in Ireland from this tremendous collection.

As an added bonus, both companies are offering special access to celebrate their launches, and FindMyPast has committed to keeping them free forever! So what are you waiting for? Start digging for those Irish roots! ♦


Megan Smolenyak is a genealogist and the author of six books, including Trace Your Roots with DNA and  Who Do You Think You Are?, a companion to the TV series. She prefers to call herself an incurable genealogist and sometimes author. Her most recent article for  Irish America, “The Spy in the Castle,” concerned the Dublin Metropolitan Police officer and Michael Collins spy David Neligan.

One Response to “Weekly Comment:
Irish Genealogy Just
Got a Lot Easier”

  1. Patricia Haverty Morrissey says:

    I am interested in “Haverty” ancestry. from Cork county & Clare county Do you have any information on artist Joseph Patrick Haverty? I want him to be related to me so badly, since we have talent in art in our family. I am hoping that we are direct descendents, since my great grandfather’s name was Patrick Haverty.

Leave a Reply


More Articles

DNA Links President Biden
to Galway

Galway joins Mayo and Louth as an Ancestral Home Ireland loves to claim her own, so President Biden – who’s...


Happy 20th Anniversary,
Ellis Island Immigrant Database!

What a difference two decades make By Megan Smolenyak In April of 2001, a miracle occurred. Well, it...


Finding Your Irish Roots
Is Easier Than Ever Before

By Megan Smolenyak Now is the time to get all your documents together so that when the time is right to visit Ireland...


John Lennon and Me
(20 years behind)

By Megan Smolenyak As the rest of the world commemorates what would have been John Lennon’s 80th birthday, I...