I recently discovered an invaluable resource for researching Irish ancestors. I’m six months late to this party, but figured it was worthwhile to write about in case others have yet to come across this information goldmine.
Online parish registers
Catholic Parish Registers at the NLI is the National Library of Ireland’s online collection of scanned baptisms and marriage registers from the majority of Catholic parishes in both Ireland and Northern Ireland, covering years up to 1880.
The best thing is that it’s free!
My paternal grandfather was 100 percent Irish-American, his father’s parents having immigrated from County Kerry, Ireland and his mother’s parents immigrants from Northern Ireland’s County Tyrone.
I’ve had great success in the past with finding parish records for my County Kerry ancestors through irishgenealogy.ie, but until last summer, when the NLI’s records went live, online parish records for County Tyrone were available only through subscription to rootsireland.ie.
How to search
To search for one’s ancestors on the NLI site, you must first enter the village, townland or parish into the search engine bar at the top right corner of the web page. That will bring up the collection of scanned registers for the relevant diocese.
Next comes the hard work of scouring the images for your ancestors’ names. There’s a great filter to help narrow things down by year and even by moth and year, if you happen to know that information.
Fair warning: the handwriting is so faint for some of the records that they are nearly impossible to read.
The good news is that there are image enhancement tools to adjust contrast, brightness and even to inverse the image.
It’s a fantastic resource and I look forward to researching my County Tyrone kin…