From today, people of Irish Catholic ancestry will be able to trace their origins back 300 years. The entire collection of Catholic parish register microfilms held by the National Library of Ireland – close to 400,000 films – will go live online today.
The National Library of Ireland has been working to digitise the microfilms for more than three years under its most ambitious digitisation programme to date.
The records could prove vital for people of Irish ancestry living overseas who are trying to track down the origins of their relatives.
Announced in December, the archive of parish register microfilms goes live today (8 July).
The parish register records are considered the single most important source of information on Irish family history prior to the 1901 Census. Dating from the 1740s to the 1880s, they cover 1,091 parishes throughout the island of Ireland, and consist primarily of baptismal and marriage records.
Typically, the parish registers include information such as the dates of baptisms and marriages, and the names of the key people involved, including godparents or witnesses.
The digital images of the registers will be searchable by parish location only, and will not be transcribed or indexed by the NLI.