GENEALOGY buffs hunting their Irish ancestry now have a hoard of priceless information at their fingertips following the online release of Ireland’s Catholic parish registers.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys, launched the National Library of Ireland project this afternoon.
The ambitious undertaking saw the entire collection of 550 Catholic parish register microfilms converted into over 390,000 digital images.
The archive will include information from over 3,500 registers from 1,000 parishes throughout the island of Ireland from the 1740s to the 1880s, consisting primarily of baptismal and marriage records.
Speaking ahead of the launch, NLI’s Ciara Kerrigan, who is managing the project, explained: “This is the most significant genealogy project in the history of the NLI.
“The microfilms have been available to visitors to the NLI since the 1970s, however, their digitisation means that, for the first time, anyone who likes will be able to access these registers without having to travel to Dublin.”
She added: “There will not be transcripts or indexes for the images. However Ireland’s nationwide network of local family history centres holds indexes and transcripts of parish registers for their local areas, so those who access our new online resource will be able to cross-reference the information they uncover, and identify wider links and connections to their ancestral community by also liaising with the relevant local family history centre."
The archive, which is free to access, can be found at http://registers.nli.ie