Journal Volume 3 2000

Searching For Your Ancestors (continued/2)

Memorials of the Dead

We are also fortunate in Co. Wicklow in having Brian Cantwell's remarkable Memorials of the Dead, a comprehensive index of the inscriptions on graves and church plaques. This series of volumes is available in Greystones library, together with Brian Cantwell's volumes covering Co. Wexford. Other counties also have some indexed grave memorials, and local Heritage Centres would advise on the availability of these.


You may find the Census of 1901 and 1911 very useful. These records are housed in the National Archives, on the site of the old Jacob's factory. You will also need a Reader's ticket for the National Archives, available frown the staff at the counter.

There were earlier censuses taken in Ireland for the years, 1813, 1821, 1831, 1841 and 1851, but tragically these records were lost in the Four Courts fire. The repository of the National Archives was considered one of the best in Europe at the time of its destruction.

Six floors of stacks ran round an open centre. During the Troubles this building was used as a munitions factory for three months, until one day a shell from across the Liffey ignited the whole store of munitions, and a myriad charred pieces of paper showered over the streets of Dublin. A request was made to return any documents that might be found, but practically nothing came back. At the time there was a strong sense of 'good riddance to Imperial rubbish', but the great loss to the people of Ireland is now understood. The census records gave details of every adult, every child, over a period of nearly forty years. A wonderful storehouse it was, with all the names of your ancestors then living.

There were later censuses in 1861, 1871, 1881 and 1891, but these were destroyed by order of the government of the day, as it was felt that the material they contained was of too personal a nature to be kept. So, you must make do with the two censuses taken at the beginning of this century, to obtain a full picture of each family of the time, with names, ages and other details. Remember that someone shown as 76 years of age in the 1901 census was born about 1825, long before the famine. In past centuries people were not as concerned with dates and ages as we now are, and you will find that the dates given for a particular event, such as a birth- date, often do not tally from one source to another.

Griffith's Primary Valuation

During the 1850s and 1860s Griffith's Primary Valuation was taken across Ireland. This was a survey for Poor Law tax purposes, based on property, and it lists all lessors and lessees of holdings, together with brief details of the property.

Tithe Applotment

During the 182Os and 1830s the unpopular Tithe Applotmant survey was taken, listing those liable to tithes, mostly in country areas and not as comprehensive as Griffith's.


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