Guide to General Register Office of Ireland
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Birth, Marriage and Death Registrations


As indicated, while attested certificates costing 5.50 each are necessary for official purposes, cheaper copy registrations costing 1.50 each will suffice for most genealogical researchers. There follows a summary of the main features of the three kinds of vital registration.

A copy birth registration gives the following information: date and place of birth, name of child, father's name and address, mother's name and maiden name, father's occupation, name and address of informant and date of registration.

A copy marriage registration gives the following information: church and denomination, date of marriage, names of groom and bride, ages (in years or merely as 'full'), whether single or widowed, occupations, addresses at time of marriage, fathers' names (and sometimes whether alive or dead), fathers' occupations, celebrant's and witnesses' names.

A copy death registration gives the following information: date and place of death, name of deceased, whether married or single, age, occupation, cause of death, name and address of informant and date of registration.

While civil records of births, marriages and deaths are generally of a high standard of reliability, errors and omissions can occasionally occur. In particular, if some months have elapsed before a birth or marriage has been registered, incorrect dates or other particulars may arise, especially in the case of illiterate or semi-literate individuals. As already noted, a certain percentage of births, marriages, and particularly deaths, may have escaped registration, or inadvertently may not have been indexed. However, if an entry cannot be found, query your own methods first - doublecheck and treblecheck the indexes, consider all possible surname and christian name variants, recheck dates, places and other information - before blaming your ancestors or the register offices for an omission.

It should by now be obvious that if one is unprepared for GRO research, not only will time be wasted and little or nothing found, but money will be wasted also due to the charging of offical fees. This once again underlines the necessity of securing all relevant identifying information through searches of family papers, interviews with older relatives, and particularly through research in the 1901 and 1911 censuses and pre-1901 census fragments and substitutes, before visiting the GRO. Armed with names, at least approximate years of birth, marriage and death, particulars of registration districts or at least counties of residence, one should be able to carry out research in the GRO with the minimum of time and expenditure and the optimum possibility of successful results.