DUBLIN (CNS) — The Catholic Church and the National Library of Ireland have partnered to make almost 400,000 images of Catholic parish register microfilms available online for free.
A National Library of Ireland statement called the records 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 nearly 1,100 parishes throughout the island of Ireland and consist primarily of baptismal and marriage records.
“Most census records from this period were destroyed in the Four Courts fire of 1922, so these parish registers are the most comprehensive surviving source of information on Irish families in the 1700s and 1800s,” said Colette O’Flaherty, head of special collections at the National Library of Ireland.
At a Dec. 1 launch of the project in Dublin, she said she believed that the digitization “will be of huge assistance to those who wish to research their family history.”
“The NLI has worked with the Catholic Church to preserve these registers since the 1950s, when we were initially invited to make microfilm copies,” she said.
“Now, in the 21st century — and in keeping with our aim of enhancing accessibility through making our collections available online — we are delighted to embark on this major digitization project,” she said.
The digital images will be available, for free, on a dedicated website, which will be launched next summer.
The information in the registers varies from parish to parish but, typically, includes the dates of the baptisms or marriages and the names of the key people involved, including godparents or witnesses.
The microfilms have been available to visitors to the National Library of Ireland since the 1970s. However, this project means that, for the first time, anyone will be able to access these registers without having to travel to Dublin.
Estimates put the number of people around the globe who claim Irish heritage at some 80 million, including more than 36 million Americans, 14 million Britons, 4.5 million Canadians, 7 million Australians and up to 1 million Argentines.
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103