How Do I Find My Ancestors in Northern Ireland? – FamilySearch February 5, 2020

Found on FamilySearch – How Do I Find My Ancestors in Northern Ireland?:

February 5, 2020  – by  Rachel Trotter


Are you tracing your Northern Ireland genealogy? Many resources on can help you in your search.

Northern Ireland is one of four major parts of the United Kingdom. (Others include England, Scotland, and Wales.) Its official language is English. Northern Ireland includes the counties of Antrim, Armagh, Down, Fermanagh, Londonderry, and Tyrone. The country of Northern Ireland was officially created on 3 May 1921 as part of the settlement between the United Kingdom and what would become the Republic of Ireland.

The island of Ireland has experienced large population movements over the centuries. Settlers from England and particularly from Scotland were settled (or planted) in the Northern Ireland area from the 1600s onwards in what is referred to as the “Ulster Plantations.” Mass emigration from Northern Ireland to England and Scotland and particularly to North America in the 1800s took place due to very difficult economic and social conditions. The Great Famine from 1845 to 1849 resulted in the death of over one million people across the island of Ireland and led to further emigration.

How do you start your Northern Ireland Genealogy Research?

You should know a few facts before you start your search:

  1. Most of the vital records are based on English law from 1864 when civil records began for all of Ireland and especially since 1921, when Northern Ireland was established.
  2. Many important records have been destroyed due to the conflicts in the period from 1919 to 1923. However, many important records still exist.


Sources to Help You Find Your Northern Ireland Ancestors

The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) is great resource for information on what may be available in your search. PRONI has a physical office in Belfast, Northern Ireland, but you can find a lot online as well. PRONI’s online archives have calendars, maps, World War I resources, and images. Many instructional talks can also help you search and tell you what you may find. PRONI tries to collect, catalogue, and preserve documents or sources that provide historical or legal glimpses of the past.


The Northern Irelandgenweb is also a great source. It will direct you to the PRONI site, but it also offers a long list of resources to help with your search—including different genealogy societies in Northern Ireland.

The General Register Office of Northern Ireland (GRONI) holds birth, death, and marriage records. The registers of the records themselves are not open to use, but the information contained on the records can be given in the form of certificates. The office doesn’t do research, but it has useful information to help put your tree together.

The website contains birth, marriage, and death records for all of Ireland from 1864 onwards, including many digital images, with many church records available also.



About Wichita Genealogist

Originally from Gulfport, Mississippi. Live in Wichita, Kansas now. I suffer Bipolar I, ultra-ultra rapid cycling, mixed episodes. Blog on a variety of topics - genealogy, DNA, mental health, among others. Let's
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2 Responses to How Do I Find My Ancestors in Northern Ireland? – FamilySearch February 5, 2020

  1. allenrizzi says:

    I was using a free database in Ireland until they went from free to $700 a year – Yes, that’s correct! I strongly feel that all source documents should be without charge.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The problem with free source documents is the massive growth in the genealogy world. There is a cost for any government agency to search for and copy a source document, plus the mailing cost.

      What I would like to see is for government agencies that allow pay sites like Ancestry to require the scanned documents be available free forever on their sites. I hope when they release the 1950 census in 2 years, the government will require it be available free on any pay site.

      Another option is what a few states do. Missouri releases death certificates every year. I think 1969 death certificates were, or are about to be released this year. How Missouri handles it is to get several volunteers to transcribe each one. They are available free on the Secretary of State’s website once they are transcribed. This saves Missouri from having to search and print the records in most cases as they are online.

      Liked by 1 person

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