You should begin by collecting basic facts about the individual or family you are interested in. Gather information from family sources including letters or official documents, such as passports, which can provide useful information about the spelling of a family name, maiden names of married women, what county, parish or townland the individual came from and when they left Ireland and where they emigrated to. Information about when a person left Ireland is vital to determining the kind of records they are likely to be found in. It is also useful for locating an individual who may have moved to a different part of the country. For further information see Researching family history.

National Archives provides a Free Genealogy Advisory Service Monday to Friday from 10.00 to 17.00, with a closure for lunch between 13.00 and 14.00. The Genealogist can provide advice on how to trace your family tree while general advice on collections is available from the Archivist on Duty in the reading room.

Many genealogy sources held by the National Archives have been digitised and are freely available on our Genealogy website. Further details about the collections found there and their usefulness for family history research can be found in Our sources for family & local history.

No. The National Archives does not charge a fee for access to any of its online resources.

National Archives holds many collections that are useful to both family and local history research. These include census returns, land valuation records, testamentary records (wills), workhouse records, transportation records, estate records and business records.

A number of collections, including the 1901 and 1911 census, have been digitised and made available online on our Genealogy website. The vast majority of collections will not be digitised, however, and must be consulted in person in the Reading Room of the National Archives.

Please consult Researching family history for more information, including what records we hold for family history and what records we do not hold.

Archival research can be difficult and time consuming. Further information on undertaking archival research and understanding how collections are arranged is available in Getting started with archival research.

A will is a document demonstrating the wishes of the deceased individual. Where a person with assets, such as land or property or possessions, dies intestate or without a will, applications are made to the High Court to obtain a grant of administration in order to fulfil legal requirements such as those set out in the laws of succession. A grant of probate or a grant of administration can only be issued where a person has died. For information on using legal sources, including wills see guides to legal sources in Legal records.

No. Certificates for civil births, deaths and marriages are held by the General Register Office, Werburgh Street, Dublin 8.

No. Some Catholic parish registers have been digitised by the National Library of Ireland and are available on their Catholic Parish Register website. The National Archives holds copies of some Church of Ireland parish registers, mostly on microfilm.