Lost Irish Records to be recreated

Four Courts Fire From Wikimedia Commons


As anyone that has done some Irish family history research knows, there is a terrible problem caused by the destruction of many of the records that were formally held at the Four Courts building in Dublin in 1922 by fire.

This week the welcome news from Ireland is that they think that they will be able to recreate a huge number of them!

Any one who knows their history is aware that the fire happened during the Civil War when the west wing of the building that once held the four courts caught on fire. This had been where the Public Records Office (PRO) had been for Ireland and it had been the home of many genealogical treasures including the Irish census returns, originals of Irish wills dating to the 16th century, as well as in excess of 1,000 Church of Ireland parish registers containing baptism, marriage and burial records and many, but not all, were lost.

The destruction happened on 30 June 1922 when, after a two-day bombardment, an explosion and then a huge fire ravaged the building. For the benefit of those that aren’t aware, the Irish Civil War was the conflict that followed on from the Irish War of Independence and occurred as a reaction to the establishment of the Irish Free State, an entity independent from the United Kingdom but within the British Empire. It was fought between the pro-treaty Provisional Government and the anti-treaty IRA over the Anglo-Irish Treaty.


Now, the new project, ‘Beyond 2022, Ireland’s Virtual Record Treasury’ has been launched. It is a collaborative project led by Trinity College Dublin in partnership with the National Archives of Ireland, The National Archives of the UK, the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland and the Irish Manuscripts Commission. It aims to re-imagine and re-create, through virtual reality, the archival collections that were lost.

To find out more have a look at this website: https://beyond2022.ie/

There are many reports in the media that give you more information on this exciting project such as this one by RTE, the Irish Broadcaster, that was the first one I saw, but not the last as many others have run the story:



Or you can have a look at this YouTube Video:


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Irish Family History Research Just Got Easier!

Ireland-Genealogy on the webIt’s a well known fact, in family tree research, that Irish family history is more difficult to do, than that of Ireland’s near neighbours, because of a lack of information and the deficiency of census records pre 1901. But this week I couldn’t help but notice several press releases about how three different websites were going to be able to ease that problem for family historians.

Back in March I spotted that Ancestry (www.ancestry.co.uk) had, for St Patrick’s day, updated its Irish Collection. This Ancestry said at the time was “the definitive online collection of 19th century historical Irish records.” It would, they said, make it easier for the nearly one in five Brits of Irish descent to explore their heritage.

In total, there are now more than 35 million historical Irish records on Ancestry.co.uk, including two million comprehensive new and upgraded records from the critical periods prior to and following the Irish Potato Famine (1845-1852), the single most significant event to drive 19th century global Irish Diaspora.

Next, I came across the news about a smaller enterprise called Ireland Genealogy (http://www.ireland-genealogy.com), this being a fascinating new web site for anyone doing Irish family tree investigation. It has its own database of Irish Pension Record applications, that enables you to lookup information extracted from the missing Irish Census and claims that this will help a researcher save both cash and time.

Their research workers have spent twenty years copying all these written pension applications (green coloured forms) and so giving us access to critical data from the 1841 and 1851 census records for all of Ireland. These pension public records are kept in the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland (in Belfast) and The National Archives, where they are available on microfilm, but this means that they could be quite tricky to understand as they are in no specific order. What is more, the records data held by P.R.O.N.I. are not indexed, adding to the difficulty of doing your research.

Ireland Genealogy claims that their database, of those pension applications, enables you to now look up this information with ease.

The third Press Release, that caught my eye, was from Brightsolid about the launch of their new website www.findmypast.ie on to the web. With online access, from the start, to over 4 million Irish records dating from 1400 to 1920s and the promise of over 50 million records to be available in the first year to eighteen months, this is a welcome addition to the findmypast family.

There are approximately 80 million people worldwide, who claim to have Irish ancestry, with just over half of this number (41 million) being Americans, the limited resources previously availble to them, to connect with their past, may at last be being redressed.

Findmypast.ie claims that they will carry “…the most comprehensive set of Irish records ever seen in one place, going back to 1400 right up until the 1920s, including the Landed Estates Court Records, the complete Griffith’s Valuation of Ireland and the Directories collection.” They will be offering high quality images of records on this site.

With the addition of these three resources, online, it would seem that Irish family research just got a bit easier.

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