Bedford Borough Council logo Central Bedfordshire Council logo

The Virtual Library

Follow us on Pinterest Follow us on Twitter Contact us on  Facebook Home  Page What's On Contact Us Help

Irish Family Tree Top Tips

Local and family history A-Z > Family history

Before you start

Michael Foley, Castleconway, Killorglin, Kerry with his 9 children c.1937
  • Visit 'Moving Here' an archived website which is a great starting point for those tracing ancestors who were not born in the UK
  • Read all you can about the subject. Search the online catalogue using terms such as 'family history',  'genealogy' or 'Ireland genealogy'

Your research begins

  • The accepted method of research is to start with the known (yourself) and then to work backwards, one step at a time, from relatives living here in Britain. Decide which branch of your family to research first, your father's or mother's
  • If your ancestors were born in England or Wales after 1st July 1837 start your search with Births, marriages & deaths (civil registration)
  • If your ancestors settled in the England or Wales after 6th June 1841 take a look at Census records (1841-1911)
  • If you wish to read up on the history of Irish settlement see the 'Migration histories' section of the Moving Here archived web site

Key resources

  1. Irish birth, marriage and death records (Civil registration)
  2. Census records
  3. Church records

1. Irish Birth, Marriage and Death records (Civil registration)

  • Civil registration began on the 1st Jan 1864 (1st April 1845 for Protestant marriages) and continues today. Selected dates (more will be added in due course) freely available at
  • You can apply for a birth, marriage or death certificate from the General Register Office (GRO)
    If you are unsure of the event date, you will need to use the index.

Index to Irish Births, Marriages and Deaths

Other Irish Births, Marriage and Death Records Online

  • Roots Ireland
    This is a pay to view website which has detailed birth, marriage and death records as well as church records mainly between 1864 and the early 1900s but new records are being added all the time.
    These records include the same information as you would find on a certificate so a subscription to the site may be good value. Click the 'Sample Records' to see the information included in each record.

Census Records

There are issues with accessing census records, as the 1821-1851 censuses were destroyed in the Four Courts Fire in 1922. The 1861- 1891 records were destroyed by order of the British Government during WWI to save space or to hide the evidence of decline in population after the famine.  However, 1901 onwards censuses do survive.

Census substitutes

Church Records (baptisms, marriages & burials)

The majority of original church registers are still held at local churches in Ireland but many genealogy centres have transcribed and indexed church records.

Books to read


  • The British Newspaper Archive has some Irish newspapers. Free to access in any Bedfordshire library.

Useful articles

  • Family Tree Magazine (Bedford Central Library, Leighton Buzzard Library and Dunstable Library have back files)

Useful websites

  • WebLinks - A list of websites to help you trace your family history.
  • Local and Family History A-Z - Describes other sources that are held in Bedford Borough and Central Bedfordshire libraries that may help you learn more about your ancestors once settled in England and Wales

Going further in your research

Good luck with your search!

Page last updated: 1st January 2022