Readers who have been following my blog will know that I have a particular interest (or obsession some might say) with the Catholic Church Records in Kerry. We have many parishes where records are ‘missing’, illegible or in very poor condition. We also have situations where original records that are currently available on the National Library microfilms, no longer exist at home. But to be fair to the guardians of these invaluable registers of our Kerry Baptisms and Marriages, they did not have an easy time, either in the recording of the events or the preservation of the books over the past two hundred and thirty years.
When I am commissioned to research long lost ancestors, my clients are often quite disbelieving that I cannot easily produce baptismal information for a great great grandfather from a known parish in the late 1700s or early 1800s. I was delighted to read an excellent blog last week from Jim Ryan, my colleague in Flyleaf Press, to support a talk entitled “Irish Catholic Church Records” at the ‘ Who Do You Think You Are Live’ show in Birmingham on Sat 18 Apr 2015. In his talk, Jim explained fully the conditions that prevailed in Ireland from the time of the Penal Laws and the effect this had on compiling and keeping of these Catholic records.
Jim says that ‘Overall, only about 14% of parishes kept records by 1800’. I keep an up to date list of each parish’s records at Finding Kerry Baptismal Records page. As I get information from readers and researchers, I update the findings on this page and I would encourage anyone doing their own research, to check first if the baptismal/marriage date from the parish you are researching, actually exists.