Census Returns

Government census records are a valuable resource for genealogists. They are especially important because they include data on all the population at a given time in history. The Irish government took a census in 1813 and then took one every ten years from 1821 through to 1911. Due to the Irish Civil War, no census was taken during 1921-1922, but the next census was done in 1926. The next census was 1936 and 1946. From 1946 to 1971, the census was recorded every five years. Since 1971, censuses have been done every ten years.

Sadly, many of the Irish censuses no longer exist. The 1813 census is non-existent; most of the censuses from 1821-1851 were destroyed by fire in Dublin in 1922. The censuses from 1861-1891 were destroyed by the government shortly after they were compiled.

Recent censuses are housed at the Public Record Office in Dublin and in Belfast (for Northern Ireland).

Some of the census fragments have been microfilmed by the LDS Church. You may want to visit your local FHC and see what records are available locally.

Religious Census Records

Religious censuses were taken at various times throughout Ireland's history. In 1766, the government required ministers from the Church of Ireland to compile a return of all the heads of households for their parishes. All the census returns were housed in Dublin and were destroyed by fire in 1922. However, some ministers kept copies of these returns in their own parish archives.

Census Substitutes

Other types of census records were compiled throughout Ireland's history. Among these were the Old Age Pension Records, Tithe Appointment Books (1823-1838), and the Griffiths Pimary Valuation (1848-1864).

Old age pension records were kept by the Irish government starting in 1909. However, anyone filing a claim that was born prior to civil registration (which began in 1864) had to provide proof of age. As a result some of the information from the 1841 and 1851 censuses have been preserved through these records.

Applotment books, Griffiths Primary Valutation and later land valuation records are valuable census substitutes. They all record the names of the land owners or occupiers of the land.

Online Records

The IrelandGenWeb Project has an archives page for user donated census records. There is also a WorldGenWeb Archives Project for user donated census records from all localities in the world.


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