Irish Birth Records – Civil Records

Civil registration of Irish Birth, Marriage and Death records in Ireland began in 1864 (note: a huge number of people were not registered in the early years even though it was law that they should be). Civil registration of non-Catholic marriages began in 1845.

The Irish Civil Registration Office has index books to all those birth, marriage and death records which occurred in ALL of the 32 counties of Ireland up to 1922.  Post 1922, the Irish Civil Registration Office only has records for the 26 counties of the Republic of Ireland.

These index books have been copied and are now freely available on-line to view.  If you are in Ireland and you go to the research office for civil records, you pay a fee to view these index books. I have read, although I have not experienced it, that there are differences between sets of indices shown by different organisations.  I am going to show you here how to search for a reference on the familysearch website and how to work your way through what you are given in order to have the references required to purchase a copy of the original record from the Irish Civil Registration Office.  The details on what you will need to order copies of films through your local Family History Library are also included but I am not going to deal with them. I have never had the pleasure of using a Family History Library therefore I am unqualified to comment.

When you search through the online index books you get a set of references, with these references you can apply to the Irish Civil Record office for a copy of the birth, marriage or death record you want to view. You PAY money for a copy of the record.

So, let’s show you what you get to see when you search for a record in the Irish Civil Record indices.

Go to

Click on the “search” word at the top of the page over the images.

A page opens up, it says “Discover your family history” and has blank boxes for you to fill in with names. So, if I want to look for a birth record, I fill in the first name, surname, country, then the place in the country where the person was born and usually I give five year date of choice


Say I look for a common name in Ireland, ‘John O’Brien’ and let’s say this John O’Brien was born in Limerick.

I fill in John in the First Name column, O’Brien in the Last Name column, the Ireland in the place name column.

Next, I fill in Limerick, Ireland in the Birthplace column, and I put 1950 in the first year range and 1955 in the second.  I click search and wait a minute or so until I get a return.

The Return will give me a number of choices as this is a very common name in Ireland. In this case, I get 134 results and I can tell you that I am very glad I am not searching for a John O’Brien born in Limerick between 1950 and 1955 *BUT* as I look down the first page of results, I see two things.

  1. The mothers maiden name is given on the right hand side of the page
  2. There is a mix up of surnames, Breen is considered to be Brien so we have a much smaller number of John O’Briens than that original figure of 134.

Then, I click on one of the John O’Brien names and a new page opens in front of me:


This page gives me the following:
Child’s Name : John O’Brien
Event type : Birth
Event Place : Limerick Ireland
Registration Quarter & Year : Oct-Dec, 1951 – this is the three month period that this birth was registered :

In theory John O’Brien was born sometime in that time frame *but* he may actually have been born in September of that year and his birth may have been registered in October.  Also, one other thing, and this is true for any registration, it is also possible that this John O’Brien was born forty years before this date and his birth was only registered in 1951.

Other details given:
Registration District : Limerick
Mother’s Maiden Name : Carroll
Volume Number:
Page Number:

Film number, folder number, image number – these 3 are irrelevant on the Irish side as in getting copies of records from Ireland.  They are used when you are trying to see the film with the information yourself in a Family History Research Centre.  I have never used them and you would have to ask a Family History Research helper how to use them.

IF you want to see any more information as regards this John O’Brien then you have to purchase a copy of the birth record from the Irish Civil Registrar’s Office.

The Birth record will give you the following information:
Date of birth
Place of Birth
Father’s name
Mothers Maiden name
Occupation of Father
Place of Residence of mother

You can use this familysearch page to find references to birth, marriage or death records for your family from Ireland, then you can order photocopies of these birth, marriage or death records yourself (for a fee)

In order to obtain a copy of a birth, marriage or death records from the Irish Civil Registration Office you have to have the following information to hand:

1. Name of person,
2. Place of event,
3. Quarter of year that event occurred,
4. Year of event,
5. Page number,
6. Volume number
and a fee.

If I want to get a copy of the birth record for the above John O’Brien, I need to have

  1. His name
  2. Place of event : Limerick
  3. Quarter of the year : Oct-Dec (alternatively called the 4th quarter)
  4. Year of Event : 1951
  5. Page Number : 5
  6. Volume Number : 255

Best of luck to you all

Copy of image of Birth registration for a Timothy Rafter born in Middlemount, Laois (Queen’s Co.) 29th September, 1880.
Father = John Rafter3
Mother = Margaret Rafter formerly(=nee) Bergin
Father occupation = Farmer
Signature, qualification and Residence of Informant = Birth informed by mother on 22nd October 1880