Guide to National Archives of Ireland

Public Offices


Office of the Attorney General

The deposited records of this Office date from 1922.

Board of Trade

Deposited records consist of about 10,000 maps and plans of dates 1840s-1930s. See Karl Magee, 'Sea, Sewage and Steam Engines: the Records of the Board of Trade', Irish Archives, Autumn 1995, pages 13-22.

Censuses of Population

As censuses have been compiled at different times under the direction of various offices, including Census Commissioners and the Office of the Registrar General, it is convenient to group these records together at this point. The first national census was taken in 1813, but was never properly completed and few returns survived before 1922. Thereafter censuses were compiled at ten-yearly intervals from 1821-1911, while the first census of the independent Irish State was taken in 1926. The census returns of 1861-91 were disposed of by Government orders before 1922 (see explanatory Memorandum), and all but fragments and abstracts of those for 1821-51 were destroyed in 1922. In addition, the National Archives holds a Census of the Diocese of Elphin 1749, and some copies of returns of the destroyed Religious Census of 1766.

The censuses of 1901 and 1911 for the 32 counties of Ireland, and surviving pre-1901 fragments, are open for public inspection in the National Archives (censuses from 1926 onwards are still closed). Microfilm copies of the 1901 census are available in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, county libraries and some other repositories in Ireland and abroad, and work is in progress to microfilm the 1911 census. The following are the principal finding aids for census materials in the National Archives (Case 4):

Catalogues of 1901 Census (by county)

Catalogues of 1911 Census (by county)

Townlands Index 1901

Street Indexes for Belfast, Cork, Dublin, Kingstown (Dun Laoghaire) and Limerick

Catalogue of Pre-1901 Census Fragments

Catalogues of Census Search Forms (compiled for pensions purposes)

See also published Census Reports from 1821 onwards (Case 8).

Charitable Donations and Bequests

Deposited records consist of files relating to individual charities 1800-1950.

Chief State Solicitor's Office

The deposited and publicly accessible records include files relating to the Erne Fishery Case 1927, Moy Fishery Case 1934, Foyle Fishery Case 1945 and Sinn Fein Funds Case 1942.

Companies Registration Office

Deposited records consist of files of companies dissolved before 1953.

Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General

Deposited records date from the 1920s.

Fair Trade Commission

No details available of deposited records.

General Register Office

The General Register Office, or Office of the Registrar General, an agency of the Department of Health located in Lombard Street East, Dublin, retains overall custody of the state's vital records. These comprise registrations of non-Catholic marriages from 1845, registrations of births, marriages and deaths of all denominations from 1864, as well as some miscellaneous registration records, including the Schulze Register 1806-37, and Marine and Army Registers. Though an adequate list of the General Register Office's records is not forthcoming, it would appear that they are divided between the General Register Office in Dublin and District Register Offices throughout the country, the latter being under the administration of the regional Health Boards. Examination of original or copy registers is forbidden by the General Register Office, and research must proceed by a cumbersome and expensive process of searching yearly indexes and ordering individual copy registrations, all on payment of set fees.

Geological Survey of Ireland

Records have been retained by the Geological Survey of Ireland, and may be inspected by appointment at its premises at Haddington Road, Dublin.

Irish Manuscripts Commission

No details available of administrative records subject to deposit.

Irish Land Commission

Deposited records of the now defunct Irish Land Commission date from the seventeenth century onwards, but are not yet catalogued or generally available for public inspection. The records, contained in some 50,000 boxes, consist mainly of deeds, abstracts of title and similar material, and were amassed as a result of the operation of the Irish Land Purchase Acts 1881-1923. The best existing finding aid was compiled by the National Library of Ireland, entitled Records in the Irish Land Commission: Survey and Guide, and takes the form of typescript volumes and card indexes (accessible only in the National Library). The bulk of Irish Land Commission records relating to the Six Counties has been deposited in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, where they are catalogued and accessible.

Land Registry

The Land Registry, an agency of the Department of Justice located in Chancery Street, Dublin, retains custody of its records, including a Register of Titles to Land for the 26 Counties commencing in 1892, which can be inspected on payment of a fee. The Land Registry has expanded its role to deal both with land and built property, and is in the process of superseding the Registry of Deeds.

National Archives

No details are available of administrative records subject to deposit, which include also records of the precursors of the National Archives, the Public Record Office of Ireland and the State Paper Office.

National Library of Ireland

No details available of administrative records subject to deposit.

National Museum of Ireland

No details available of administrative records subject to deposit.

Ordnance Survey

Deposited records date from 1824 and include reports, correspondence, note books and field books, registers, Templemore and other memoirs, town plans, plots, fair plans and proof impressions. See Parish Index and lists of records at Case 2, and National Archives on-line guide.

Paymaster General's Office

Deposited records include letter books and other materials dating from the late 18th and early 19th centuries, including documents relating to forces in Ireland, tithes, Tralee Savings Bank and Constabulary expenses.

Prisons and Places of Detention

Deposited records are the prisoners' registers of more than 40 prisons and other penal institutions, including the following: Kilmainham Gaol (1798-), Cork County Gaol (1919-), Cork City Gaol (1822-), Limerick Gaol (1830-), Sligo Gaol (1836-) and Trim Gaol (1837-). See List of Prison Registers, and see also Records of Prison Administration.

Office of Public Works

Established in 1831 as the Board of Works, the deposited records of this Office date mainly from the early 19th century, and deal with a broad range of matters including the following: public buildings, public works, inland navigation, fisheries, roads and bridges, piers and harbours, railways, drainage, asylums, schools and colleges, labourers' dwellings, relief of distress and loans for various purposes. See Lists of Records at Case 2, National Archives on-line guide, and Rena Lohan, Guide to the Archives of the Office of Public Works, Dublin 1994.

Quit Rent Office

This Office was responsible for management of Crown estates, collection of quit rents and other royal land revenues, as well as related matters, and in 1943 its functions were transferred to the Irish Land Commission. The records deposited include copies of the Civil Survey 1654-6, two sets of the Books of Survey and Distribution, 83 original Down Survey barony maps, a Crown Rental of 1706, and copies of deeds, patents and other records. In addition there are letter books, account books, correspondence, memoranda and files of documents dating from 1689-1942, and the 19th-century material includes papers relating to state-aided emigration schemes from Crown estates. See List of Records and 56th Report of the Deputy Keeper, pages 303-8, also Eilis Ellis, 'State-Aided Emigration Schemes from Crown Estates in Ireland', Analecta Hibernica, 22, 1969, pages 329-94.

Registry of Deeds

The Registry of Deeds, an agency of the Department of Justice located in Henrietta Street, Dublin, retains custody of Memorials and Transcripts of Deeds relating to land and property transactions in all Ireland from 1708-1922, and in the 26 Counties from 1922 onwards. The Transcripts can be inspected on payment of a fee. The Registry of Deeds is in the process of being superseded by the Land Registry. See Rosemary ffolliott, 'The Registry of Deeds for Genealogical Purposes', in Irish Genealogy: A Record Finder, Dublin 1981, pages 139-56.

Registry of Friendly Societies

No details available of deposited records.

Revenue Commissioners

No details available of deposited records.

Royal Hospital Kilmainham

The Royal Hospital at Kilmainham was founded in 1684 to provide accommodation and financial support for military pensioners, and was closed in 1929. Deposited records include minutes 1684-1929, letter books and correspondence 1778-1993, account books and records of pensioners (see List). For further records of the Royal Hospital see Copies of Records in Other Repositories. A collection of papers of the Headquarters of the British Army in Ireland, formerly held in the Royal Hospital, is now in the National Library of Ireland. For details of other military documents in the National Archives, see Military Records.

Office of the Secretary to the President

Deposited records date from 1937.

Shipping Agreements and Crew Lists

Deposited records relate to the 26 Counties, and are those firstly of the Registrar General of Shipping and Seamen 1863-1921. The records from 1922-79 were accessioned from the Mercantile Marine Office in Dublin, and before they can be consulted the permission of the Office's Superintendent must be obtained.

Tithe Applotment Books

Tithe was a tax payable on agricultural land to the Established Protestant Church of Ireland, and was naturally greatly resented by non-members of that denomination. A series of acts were passed from 1823 onwards in an effort to make the method of calculating the tax fairer, but it was eventually to be generally abolished in 1869 (though it survived into this century in some cases as a rent charge). Under the 1823 Act, Commissioners were appointed to value land in each parish, and books listing tithe-payers and quantities of land were compiled for most parishes, generally at dates between 1823-38. Having been first deposited with the Irish Land Commission, the Tithe Applotment Books were transferred in the 1940s to the Public Record Office of Ireland and the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.

Because of the destruction of most pre-1901 census records, the Tithe Applotment Books are an important census substitute, listing on average about 40 per cent of heads of families. As the originals have been withdrawn for conservation reasons, the Tithe Books must be viewed in microfilm copy form. The National Library of Ireland and some other repositories also hold microfilm copies of the Tithe Books, while the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland as indicated holds the originals of the books relating to the Six Counties. Refer to List of Tithe Applotment Books on microfilm, and National Library of Ireland, Index of Surnames. See also Tithe Defaulter's Lists, page 18.

Valuation Office and Boundary Survey

Deposited records include a complete set of the printed volumes of the Primary Valuation of Tenements, 1848-64, also known as Griffith's Valuation, which lists householders and occupiers of land and buildings, together with details of lessors, acreages and rateable valuations. As a consequence again of the destruction of most pre-1901 census records, Griffith's Valuation is an important census substitute, and lists on average about 70 per cent of heads of families. As the original volumes have been withdrawn for conservation reasons, Griffith's Valuation must be viewed in microfiche copy form (the National Library of Ireland and some other repositories also hold copies). Refer to List of Primary Valuation on microfiche, also National Library of Ireland Index of Surnames, microfiche full-name indexes to Griffith's Valuation for Dublin and Belfast Cities and some counties, and Family Tree Maker's CD-ROM full-name index to Griffith for all 32 Counties.

Other deposited Valuation Office records are the Field Books, House Books, Mill Books, Quarto Books, Record of Tenure Books and Miscellaneous Books, which relate to the preparation of the Primary Valuation and the earlier Townland Valuation. In addition, there are Letter Books 1827-94, Letter Registers 1850-61, records prepared under the Finance Act 1910, and Boundary Survey maps and registers relating to the determination and alteration of administrative boundaries 1826-41 and 1854-1925. The Cancelled Valuation Lists, or records of subsequent periodic revisions of the Primary Valuation, are still held in the Valuation Office, where they can be searched on payment of a fee. The annotated copies of Ordnance Survey maps associated with Griffith's Valuation have recently been transferred to the National Archives, where they are not yet available for inspection, but scanned copies can be viewed in the Valuation Office. Most but not all Valuation Office records and maps relating to the Six Counties have been deposited in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, where they are catalogued and available for inspection. See William E Vaughan, 'Richard Griffith and the Tenement Valuation', in G L H Davies and R C Mollan Editors, Richard Griffith, 1784-1878, Dublin 1980, pages 103-22.