The National Archives

The Public Records Office of Ireland was established by the Public Records (Ireland) Act 1867 under a Deputy Keeper of Records. Since 1892 the same person always held the two posts of Deputy Keeper of Public Records and Keeper of State Paper's, but the two departments continued a separate existence. The National Archives Act 1986 (which came into operation in June 1988) created a new institution, known as the National Archives, to take over the functions of the State Paper Office and the Public Record Office, with a Director of the National Archives in charge.

The National Archives are now located at Bishop Street, Dublin 8.

Telephone : 00 353 (0)1 407 2300; (Fax 407 2333)

Website : Take me there

The reading room is open : Monday to Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. it does not close for lunch but service is suspended (12.45 p. m. to 2 p. m.). Documents will be produced during the hours of 10 a. 1 p. m. and 2 p. m. to 4.30 p. m. . Dockets must be placed in the tray before 12.45 p. m. for production before lunch and before 4.30 p.m. for production in the afternoon.

A reader's ticket is required to search through the records, but there is no difficulty in obtaining such for genealogical research. These are now issued on a calendar year basis.

A photocopying service is available and fees are displayed in the reading room.

Annual reports

The Deputy Keeper of Records, under the provisions of the 1867 Act, was required to publish an annual report regarding the work of classifying and arranging the records, the nature of the accessions, and an index to the documents by name, date, classification, and location which were not included in the larger collections with their own indexes. These Reports of the Deputy Keeper of the Public Records of Ireland, were published annually between 1869 and 1921. However only six Reports were published from 1926 to 1962. They comprise 59 volumes with appendices, including indexes.

In 1922 there was a fire in the Public Records Office and many records were lost. After the fire, appeals were made in Ireland or abroad, for all those who had copied the records in the past, to send their copies or transcripts, abstracts, or notes, to replace the burned records. Much valuable work has been done to replace the lost records.

The 55th to the 58th Reports of the Deputy Keeper published between 1928 and 1951, furnish information as to the collections that have been accumulated, indexed and are available to the public. A Short Guide to the Public Records Office of Ireland (1964) by Griffith is an introduction to the National Archives. This is out of print, however a photocopy is on sale at the reading room desk.

The Reading Room

There are published works of a genealogical nature on the open shelves: Reports of the Deputy Keeper

Manuscript Sources for the History of Irish Civilization

Townland Index

Census Reports 1821-

The Irish Manuscripts Commission publications

Analecta Hibernica

Parish Registers

Index to Wills

Memorial of the Dead

Graveyard Inscriptions

Thom's Directory.


There are also in the reading room card catalogues and typed indexes to the various collections, which are of great assistance in locating the record that is being sought.

These are as follows :

Annual Calendar of Wills and Administrations

Judgments and Orders

Marriage Licence Bonds

Carte Transcripts

Crossle Genealogical Abstract

Jennings Notes

Thrift Genealogical Abstracts

Maps and Rentals (names and places)

Wills Extracts in Office of Charitable Donations

Proclamations (names and places)

Miscellaneous Records

Index of Surnames in Primary Valuation and Tithe Books

Shipping Records Names

National Schools by county then name of school

Pre-1708 Deeds by county then barony

A "Nineteenth Century Census" list

Finding Aids

In addition the shelves in the reading room contain folders, that act as finding aids to the sources. Here will be found the reference number to the record to be sought. This reference number is written on a docket, which is placed in a tray. The record will then be brought to you.

The Records

As the State repository the National Archives has a great amount of material of a genealogical nature. Many of the records in the National Archives are discussed in other chapters and it is only necessary to make brief reference here.

Accordingly among the records that may be consulted are:

Census returns, the complete returns for 1901/1911;

Church of Ireland parish registers4

The Primary Valuation;

The Tithe Books;

Betham·s genealogical abstracts containing more information than the pedigrees in the Office of the Chief Herald;

Marriage Licence Bonds for the Church of Ireland covering the period 1650 to 1845; Chancery and Equity Bills;

Records of the Land Commission, Valuation Office and Quit Rent Office;


During the period prior to 1857, the ecclesiastical courts of the Church of Ireland had jurisdiction in relation to wills. Each diocese had a Consistorial Court, it was this court that granted probate. If a deceased had property of more than ‚5 in a second diocese, then the matter had to go to the Prerogative Court, which was under the jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Armagh. The Probate Act (Ireland) 1857 abolished the jurisdiction of the ecclesiastical courts. it established a principal registry in Dublin and eleven district registries.

The records of wills and administration now in the National Archives include the following : (a) Original wills and administration papers lodged in the Principal Registry since 1904, and in most District Registries since 1900 (indexed in the annual Calendars). (b) Will books containing copies of most wills proved in District Registries since 1858, and of some wills proved in the Principal Registry in 1874, 1876, 1891 and 1896 (indexed in the annual Calendars). (c) Grant books containing copies of grants made in the Principal Registry since 1922 and in 1878, 1883, 1891 and 1893, and of most grants made in the District Registries since 1858 (indexed in the annual Calenders) (d) Betham's abstracts of wills proved in the Prerogative Court before 1800, of administrations granted in the Prerogative Court before 1802, and of wills proved in the Kildare Diocesan Court before 1827 (indexed in Vicar's Index, the Indexes to Prerogative Grants, and the Index to Wills of the Diocese of Kildare reprinted from the Journal of Kildare Archaeological Society, iv, no. 6. (1905) (e) Inland Revenue registers of wills and administrations, 1828-39 (indexed in separate indexes which cover the period 1828-79; for the years 1840-57 these indexes give details which do not appear in the general indexes referred to above) (f) Charitable Donations and Bequests will extract books containing abstracts of wills which made charitable bequests, 1800-1961 (there is a separate card index for the period 1800-58) (g) Other copies and abstracts of wills and administrations for the periods both before and after 1858 (indexed in the main testamentary card index)

The State Paper Office

The State Paper Office is now a sub-office of the National Archives Most of the documents relate to the administration of Ireland during the years 1790 to 1922. The classes of State Papers are as follows : Records of the Chief Secretary·s office :

Westmorland correspondence 1789-1808

Rebellion papers 1790-1807

State of the country papers 1790-1831

Official papers 1790-1922

Registered papers (incl. outrage paper) 1818-1924

Letter books 1801-1912

Police and crime records :

Irish crime records 1848-93

Fenian papers 1857-83

Crime branch special records 1887-1920

Police records 1848-1921

Records of the department of Chief Secretary·s office :

Convict prisons office 1836-80

Privy council office 1800-1922

Chief Crown Solicitors's department 1815-1922

General prison board :

Government prisons office 1936-80

Office of inspector-general of prisons 1836-80

General prisons board 1877-1928

National Archives