National Library of Ireland

The National Library of Ireland is located beside Leinster House on Kildare Street, Dublin 2.

Telephone : 00 353 (0)1 603 022.

Website : Take me there

It is open as follows:

Monday - Wednesday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Thursday - Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Saturday 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

For up to date opening times check National Library Website

Genealogical advisory service

The National Library does not offer a research service to readers or correspondents. However a free genealogical advisory service is available to personal callers. Library staff provide inquirers with an outline of relevant sources available in Irish and other repositories, and direct them towards source material in the National Library. If a person has time there is no reason not to take advantage of this service.

Readers∑s ticket

A reader's ticket is required to use the library. Application for a reader's ticket (which may be issued for up to five years) can be made on entry and there is no difficulty when required for genealogical purposes. You are required to sign the register at the service counter each day as you enter. If you use the manuscript reading room you must also sign the register there.

Using the National Library

Having signed the register, one should seat oneself at a table. During the summer a person may have to wait until a table becomes available. In order to obtain books or other materials, a call slip must be filled out. These are available at the service counter and you are asked not to fill out more that three at any one time. The call number will be found in the appropriate catalogue.

If the subject volumes of the printed book catalogue are consulted under a particular county or under whatever village, town, or parish you are interested in you will find any book or pamphlets required. Items acquired since 1968 are listed in a separate card catalogue.

Materials are issued to readers at their tables generally within five to fifteen minutes. When leaving the library (apart from absences of up to fifteen minutes) materials should be returned to the service counter and you should retrieve your call slips, this is your proof that you have returned what material was brought to you.

Photocopying facilities by the following processes are available :

xerox, photograph, microfilm, printout from microfilm. Details and charges are displayed on a notice board in the printed books reading room.

The records

The genealogical sources in the National Library are numerous and reference is made to them continually in the other chapters of this book. What follows can only be a brief account of what is contained in this repository.

Printed material

The National Library is a copyright library for both Ireland and Britain, and as such it has copies of all books published during the past hundred years or so. It follows that the library has copies of all printed sources. This includes a complete series of archeological and historical journals, to which there is a card index (which has been microfilmed). It has the largest and most complete collection of regional, county, parish and town histories. There are also numerous family histories and published genealogies.


The library has been active in acquiring microfilms of all records of Irish interest from manuscripts in libraries and archives in Ireland and abroad. The Report of the Council of Trustees contains details on accessions of microfilms. Much of the material on microfilm in the National Library is referred to elsewhere. Collections from various archives have been microfilmed; including the Office of the Chief Herald, Trinity College Dublin, the Friends' Library, and the Registry of Deeds.

Catholic parish registers Roman Catholic Parish records on microfilm, which have been considered in Chapter 4.

Primary Valuation

The Primary Valuation of Rateable Property in Ireland edited by Richard Griffith, which has been considered in Chapter 5 is here.

Surname∑s index

The index to surnames in the Primary Valuation and the Tithe Books is here. There is a volume for each county.

Lists of Electors

Freeholders who satisfied a property requirement were entitled to vote. There are several of these lists in the library: consult Subject Catalogue under "Elections".


General directories are on open access; among these there is a good collection of Dublin directories from about 1730 and a complete file of Thom∑s Almanac and Official Directory from 1844. Directories relating to individual towns or counties will be located through the Subject Catalogue of printed books.

Most towns are included in the following :

Pigot, City of Dublin and Hibernian Provincial Directory (1824);

Slater, National Commercial Directory of Ireland (1846 to 1894;

MacDonald, Irish Directory and Gazetteer (from 1902 to 1955).

Pigot and Slater give general information on towns and large villages and have lists of gentry, professionals, farmers, traders and tradesmen.

Ordnance Survey Books and Letters

The Ordnance Survey letters of John O∑Donovan and the name books consisting of topographical and antiquarian data on townlands, towns and parishes are here. There are transcript copies available, arranged by county. There are also copies available on microfilm.


There are newspapers files from the seventeenth century onwards, but mainly covering the nineteenth century and the twentieth century. There is a catalogue available which contains an alphabetical list of newspapers with details of holdings in hardcopy or microfilm. There is an index of publication and there is also a table showing titles available for each decade back to 1680. To find a newspaper published in the locality that you are interested in, consult the Newspaper List. It has a list of provincial papers arranged by place of publication and details of the National Library's file for each title.

Estate papers and records

The outcome of all the confiscations, plantations and settlement of Ireland was the survival of some great mediaeval and later plantation estates. These estates were finally broken up by the Lands Acts and the Incumbered Estates Court. The collections of estate records and papers may contain the following :

Rent rolls : which normally list the tenants by townland;

Leases : which give the tenants name and perhaps those of his children, with their ages.

Rent ledgers : showing what each tenant had to pay in rent;

Maps : which plot tenants holdings on a scale of about 6' to 1 mile;

Wages books : will contain the names of labourers, servants and gardeners who may not be tenants;

Land agents note-books : may contain details of a tenant and family;

Land agents letters : may refer to persons on the estate or in the area.

There is a list of reports on manuscript collections in private keeping, reference to which is made in Analecta Hibernica numbers 20 and 23. A list and indexes of estate records in the Irish Land Commission (the originals of which are not available for consultation) is also here.


The first edition (1833-46) of six-inch Ordnance Survey maps, with revised editions for particular counties from 1855 to 1893 are here. A revised edition on a larger scale (1/2,500) was begun after 1887. Also there are large scale plans of towns, mainly five-foot, published in the second half of the nineteenth century.

There is a map catalogue which includes printed and manuscript maps. Entries are arranged alphabetically by places and person; check all the entries relating to the particular county, as well as those relating to the specific locality that you are interested in.


The library has on microfilm the wills indexes to grantors and to lands in the Registry of Deeds. A list and indexes of wills in the Irish Land Commission (the originals of which are not available for consultation) are available. A great deal of information in relation to wills has been published and such publications are available here.


To find out what is available consult the places volumes of Manuscript Sources for the History of Irish Civilization (edited by R. J. Hayes 1965). A supplement covering the period 1965-75 has been published, while a card catalogue of material processed since 1975 is available for consultation in the manuscript reading room. Entries are arranged by persons, subjects, places, dates and in the case of materials that are not in the National Library of Ireland, by institutions. With regard to places, entries are arranged by county with place within county in alphabetical order; you should check all entries for the county that you are interested in.

British Parliamentary Papers

These cover the period from the Act of Union, often termed "Blue Books". Many of these publications such as reports of Parliamentary committees and commissions have substantial material of a local nature included in minutes of evidence and appendices.

The Office of the Chief Herald

The Office of the Chief Herald is the Office of Arms for Ireland. This office is a department of the National Library, and is located at 2 Kildare Street, Dublin 2.

It is not a public office, is not open to the public for genealogical work, and has no facilities for the public to search. A house researcher is available to undertake searches on behalf of the public in the records of the office. Such searches are charged at the rate of £50 per hour.

National Library of Ireland

Office of the Chief Herald