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Finding Irish church records

Chris Paton provides a handy summary of sources and steps to help you locate Irish church records for researching your ancestors


The registers for St Bride’s, Dublin, dated back to 1633. The building itself can be located, noted as number 25, on this map from 1610

If your ancestors were Irish, you may believe that they adhered to one religion or another, but the truth is often quite different. As with many Irish people, I have a mix of denominations within my ancestry, requiring research into various resources for different relevant stories.

Here I will show you the range of records and how to use them for tracing your family history.

Church of Ireland records

The Anglican-based Church of Ireland was the main State church on the island from the 16th century until its eventual disestablishment in January 1871 (following the passing of the Irish Church Act of 1869).

Despite never being the majority church of the Irish it nevertheless had a disproportionate influence as part of the establishment.

Anglican parishes were coterminous with the civil parishes, and the Church effectively acted as a wing of Government in the civilian administration of the land.

The Anglican Church recorded vital events for many beyond its own flock, and its parish burial grounds were also used by Roman Catholics, Presbyterians and other denominations. It also raised taxes (tithes) from landholders, its ecclesiastical courts handled the probate process until 1858, and it administrated the island’s system of poor relief until 1838.

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There's something undeniably special about visiting our ancestors' final resting places. Read the guide in the latest issue of Family Tree about graveyards and we will help you step back in time. Graveyards and cemeteries are a very real reminder of earlier generations and visiting them will not only spark thought-provoking memories - they may also provide you with new clues and details... And speaking of 'new clues' - don't miss our brand new series 'Taken a DNA test? Now what?'. This is the advice you need if you want to get the most from your DNA test. Discover how to make sense of the results, find more details and grow that fabulous family tree of yours! Join in with the DNA adventure today! We also have a fabulous free guide for you in this bumper issue, Heritage Days Out, packed full of ideas for family and local history trips to take this summer. Enjoy your travels through time!