Our sources for family & local history


This is a general introduction to sources of information that are available in the National Archives for those who are beginning research into local and family history.

It aims to provide a description of these archives, but also information on possible sources of relevance in other repositories. As a general introduction, this list is not exhaustive and describes only those sources of relevance to people in general.

Some of these collections have been digitised and are available online on our Genealogy website; others involve in-depth archival research in person in the National Archives. Further information on undertaking archival research is available in Historical records.

If you know a name, a place and an approximate time period, the principal archives available to research are:

  • Tithe Applotment records for a person living in the 1820’s or 1830’s;
  • Primary Valuation and valuation records for a person living in the 1840’s, 1850’s or 1860’s; and
  • 1901 and 1911 census returns for a person living in the early 20th century.

If you know a date of a birth, marriage or death of an ancestor, further details may be sought in records of births, deaths, marriages, baptisms and burials.

Private Source Records, including Landed Estate Collections

National Archives has a strong tradition of acquiring private source records from individuals, medical institutions and private business. These sources can provide a unique insight into the social conditions and lives of individuals who do not otherwise appear in official records, and also provide a unique perspective on the economic and social development of Ireland mainly throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries. These collections have not been digitised and must be consulted in person. Further information is available in Research guides & sources.

Genealogy Indexes & Online Sources

If you do not know the parish or townland in which an ancestor lived, the following online searches and indexes may be used in order to help focus searching to a particular geographic area:

  • Tithe Applotment Books can be searched and accessed online on our Genealogy website.

Basic surname searches of this website will yield results identifying the townland, parish and county in which the name appears in the Tithe Applotment Books.

Basic surname searches of this website will yield results identifying the county, parish and townland in which the name appears in the Primary Valuation, as well as other territorial divisions, such as barony and union.

  • Online search of 1901 and 1911 census returns and surviving census for 1821, 1831, 1841 and 1851, as well as census search forms available on our Census website.

Various indexes available in the reading room, which allow searches to be made by surname, subject matter and place name, such as indexes to marriage licence bonds, to genealogical abstracts and to surviving pre-20th century testamentary records and other archives.

Reading Room

For information on how to apply for a Reader’s Ticket and available services see Visit us.