In July 2015, a real breakthrough happened when the National Library of Ireland, released digital images of the Catholic Parish Registers (in Ireland North & South) which they had microfilmed in the 1950s & 1960s. For most family researchers the listing of baptisms and marriages on these sources are the gold standard evidence of actual existence. They also provide links from one generation to the next.
For anyone looking for Kerry ancestors, we have been extremely lucky to have transcriptions of the these same registers available on www.genealogy.ie for some years now. These transcriptions were copied from the registers in the late 1990s and mostly 90% accurate. Considering the work involved in deciphering the handwriting, translation from original Latin entries and the poor state of some registers, 90% accuracy is excellent. But to be able to see the actual image of the original entry online (and no charge involved) is invaluable. If there are errors in the transcriptions, this is where you will find them.Tips on finding YOUR ancestor in the Parish Registers
You need to know your Kerry ancestor’s date of birth/baptism or marriage, and the Church where the ceremony took place. If you have no idea of a date, or perhaps even a location my advice is to log on to www.IrishGenealogy.ie , enter your ancestor’s name and enter Kerry as the location. Any extra information you have prior to your search here will make a difference in getting the correct record e.g. father’s name, rough idea of the year of the birth etc. Another search facility is provided on the free website FamilySearch.org. The Ireland Collections include Ireland Births and Baptisms, 1620-1881 and Ireland Civil Registration Indexes, 1845-1958.Then -
- Log on to Registers.Nli.ie
- Click on the date range for either Baptisms or Marriages that you require
- Select the Event, the Year and the Month
- Once you are on the page of the register, you may have to zoom and move the page(s)
An easier option has been provided by FindMyPast in the past month. The Catholic Parish Registers are actually indexed on this site. FindMyPast is normally a subscription website but they say ‘We feel that these new records are so important to Irish genealogy that we've decided to make them free forever’.
Missing Parish Registers
The one thing that really puzzles, not to say exasperates people is the 'missing' records. So there is no sign of a baptism or maybe a marriage in www.IrishGenealogy.ie of your ancestor. And the worst part of this is that there is no notice or anyone to tell you that 'actually that year is missing in X Parish'. Pages and indeed entire books have gone missing in a a number of parishes. There are various explanations for this from 'no idea why', 'fire', flood', 'lost'. 'illegible' to grehounds eating records, Black and Tans', The only advice I can give is to consult Kerry Births & Marriage Records online or my book Finding Your Ancesors in Kerry pgs. 56-80. It would help in keeping this 'Missing' list up to date if you find any other location missing, to email me.
But Firstly you should try ALL variations of the surname. Spelling wasn't standardised in the 19th century and some families names were not entered with the exact spelling that we use now.