Locating a parish

Please review the video and questions below for help with locating the parish of interest to you.

How do I search for a parish?

There are two ways to search for a parish. You can enter the name of the parish in the search box on the homepage or in the header on any of the pages in the site. Alternatively click on the map to locate the correct parish.

Can I search by a person’s name?

No, the images have not been indexed or transcribed so it is not possible to search by name. An index to registers in Kerry, Dublin city and parts of Cork is freely available at Irish Genealogy. Indexes to registers in most parishes in Ireland are available on the subscription website Roots Ireland.

How do I use the map?

Click anywhere on the map to show the Catholic parishes in a particular area. Alternatively use the zoom button above the map. Clicking on any parish name will return an information page for that parish. You can also toggle between the names of counties and dioceses using the map.

I know the name of the town or village that my ancestor came from but not the Catholic parish. How do I find the right parish?

Use the free website SWilson.Info to locate the correct Catholic parish.

What’s the difference between a civil parish or a townland and a Catholic parish?

Some placenames may refer to civil parishes or townlands. Civil parishes are territorial units originating from old Gaelic land divisions. They later became administrative units for census and taxation purposes. Townlands are the smallest denominations of land, sometimes just a few acres. There are often between 25 and 30 townlands in a civil parish. Catholic parishes are territorial units of the Catholic church and a number of Catholic parishes form a diocese. For more information about Irish placenames and to locate a civil parish from a townland, see Logainm.

The parish page says that the NLI has no registers for this parish. What can I do?

There are 56 parishes for which the NLI holds no registers. The parish may have come into existence after 1880 which was the cut-off date for microfilming, or the register may not have been microfilmed by the NLI. Each parish page displays links to other websites which may hold indexes for registers which were not microfilmed. The vast majority of original registers are still held within individual parishes, so it may be worthwhile contacting the particular parish of interest.

Why are some parishes not represented on the map?

The map is derived from the Catholic parish maps on John Grenham’s Irish Ancestors site, which in turn is based on Lewis’ Topographical Dictionary of Ireland (1837). The map is not intended to be geographically accurate but representative generally of the location of Catholic parishes in the mid-19th century and enabling researchers to locate adjoining parishes. A small number of parishes which did not come into existence until after 1880 are not represented on the map.

I know the county that my ancestor came from but not the Catholic parish. Do I have to search all the parishes in the county?

No! Use Griffith’s Valuation to narrow down occurrences of the surname to certain parishes, then search those parishes. Griffith’s Valuation is available online at Ask About Ireland.

Where can I get help reading the registers?

Information about Latin and variant names and nicknames is available in Judith Eccles Wight’s A rose by any other name: a guide to Irish christian names. A list of common Latin words is available on FamilySearch. You can also contact the relevant local family history centre at Roots Ireland. In addition to holding indexes to the registers, genealogists in these centres can provide a wealth of other information about related local sources that are of interest to family history researchers.

How do I find out if there is a listing of graveyard records in my ancestor’s parish?

The recording of burials was much less consistent than that of baptisms and marriages so graveyards are often a useful resource for family history researchers. Other Resources contains links to some useful websites which record information from gravestones and related memorial records. Catholics were sometimes buried in Church of Ireland graveyards so it is also worth checking these records.

How do I find the current contact details for my ancestor’s parish?

The Irish Catholic Directory is an annual publication listing contact details for every parish on the island of Ireland. Many parishes have their own websites, or you can search the Catholic Bishops website or the online Catholic Directory.

How do I find out if there are relatives of mine still living in a parish?

There are a number of sources that can help you to find living relatives. Checking local telephone directories, electoral registers and Griffith’s Valuation revision books may be of some help. Other options include placing a letter in a local newspaper, joining the local family history society or internet group or posting on Ireland XO’s message board.

Viewing a register

Please review the video and questions below for help with using the register viewer.

How do I view a register?

Click on a register image in a parish page to open the viewer containing the register images. You can also click on the microfilm number and register information to open the viewer.

Can I search within a register?

Yes! Click the Filter Events/Dates button to open the toolbar. You can filter by event, year and month. The pages that correspond to the events and dates you have selected will be highlighted.

Why are the Filter Events/Dates often different to the register events and dates?

To ensure that start and end dates for each register were accurate, the first and last pages of each register were checked. The main events covered within the register were also noted. The information which allow events and dates to be filtered within a register was captured at page level, so may include events and dates beyond those indicated in the main register information if a priest annotated a record on an individual page.

Why are some images restricted?

A small number of registers contain records of events occurring beyond the 1910s and so may relate to living persons. A decision was made to restrict access to these records on the basis of a 100 year closure period. This means that images of records concerning events in 1916 will not be made available until 2016, images of records for 1917 will be made available in 2017 and so on.

Why are some of the images so difficult to read?

The images were digitised from microfilm which was made during the 1950s and 1960s. In addition many of the original registers were in very poor condition.

The writing is very faint. Can I make it brighter or darker?

Use the brightness and contrast buttons on the toolbar to customise the image. You can also invert the colours in the image using the inverse image button.

The names are in Latin. Help?

A list of common Latin names is available in A rose by any other name: a guide to Irish christian names by Judith Eccles Wight. Surnames were never translated.

Is there an index I can use?

Some registers themselves contain indexes, for example, registers in the parish of St Pauls, Dublin city. This will generally be indicated in the register information on the parish page. Registers in Kerry, Dublin city and parts of Cork have been indexed and are freely available on Irish Genealogy. An index to registers in most parishes is available on the Roots Ireland subscription site. John Grenham’s website provides information on available indexes and transcriptions for each parish, both free and subscription based.

How do I print an image?

Click on the Print icon in the viewer toolbar.

I want to share this image on Facebook. Can I do this?

Yes, just click on the Facebook icon to share the image.

What do these different events mean?

Click here to find out more information about events listed in the registers.

Other questions

I've found an error. Can I contact you?

Yes, please let us know by filling out the Contact form.

I want to publish an image from the site. Can I do this?

All images on the site can be shared and reproduced for non-commercial purposes. If you wish to reproduce an image for commercial purposes, please contact

I need more help. Who can I contact?

You can submit a query using the Contact form on the site, by emailing, or by telephone to 01 6030260.

What other sources for family history are available in the NLI?

Click here to find out about other collections held by the NLI.

What other sources for family history are available elsewhere?

Click here for list of other repositories and useful websites.

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