The Family Tree Irish Genealogy Guide

The front cover of the May/June 2017 Family Tree Magazine boasts “Discover Your Irish Roots.”

Inside the magazine is a six-page article about the Irish civil registration system — an excerpt from Claire Santry’s new book, The Family Tree Irish Genealogy Guide (Family Tree Books).

Santry provides clear explanations about each record type (i.e., births/marriages/deaths). And if you’re (understandably!) confused about the difference between the various Irish civil record sources, she compares their key features: General Register Office of Ireland (GROI), General Register Office of Northern Ireland (GRONI), Ancestry, Findmypast, FamilySearch, and RootsIreland.

History of Irish Civil Registration

I didn’t realize until reading the article that Irish civil registration started as a result of bigamy cases in the 1830s. When an 1842 case went all the way to the House of Lords, the government moved to invalidate all marriages of Protestant Dissenters in Ireland, mostly Presbyterians living in Ulster.

The Marriages (Ireland) Act went into effect in April 1845 and created a centralized system for registering marriages. However the Catholic Church considered it interference and resisted. As a result only non-Catholic marriages were registered from 1845 to 1863. Demand grew for compulsory registration of births, deaths and all marriages; ultimately the law changed effective 1 January 1864.

You can purchase The Family Tree Irish Genealogy Guide as well as some of Santry’s other works at


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