In 1538 Thomas Cromwell, as Henry VIII's Chancellor, introduced a system obliging the clergy to maintain registers of all baptisms, weddings and funerals. But despite penalties for non-compliance, the system was not as effective as had been hoped.
It was another 300 years before civil registration was introduced by law in England and Wales, commencing in July 1837. It was many years before this was extended to Ireland.
Over time, demand grew for an official Irish registration system for births, deaths and marriages. Laws regulating factory employment, public health and inheritance meant that ordinary Irish citizens now had to prove legitimacy, age and other particulars.
In 1845 provisions were introduced by the government to enable the registration of non-Catholic marriages as well as marriages by civil contract.
But it was not until 1863 that the registration of births and deaths became compulsory in Ireland. The Act did not include Catholic marriages until later that year. By 1 January 1864 a complete Irish civil registration system was in place.
Ireland was divided into 163 unions or districts, based on the parishes described under the Poor Law (Ireland) Act, 1838, for the registration of births, deaths and marriages.
In 1922 the civil registration service was restructured to provide separate and independent registration systems for Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Irish Genealogy.ie should be the first point of reference for Irish family research.
This is the website of the National Archives of Ireland and contains the most comprehensive collection of Irish birth, death and marriage records available.
Sir George Strickland Kingston, born in County Cork. Arrived in South Australia 1836. B 5030.
Other websites which might be useful include those listed below:
General Register Office,
Items available from the General Register Office of Ireland:
General Register Office - please note you need to buy credits before you are able to search birth, death, marriage, adoption and War War II deaths Indexes online.
General Register Office (GRO)
49-55 Chichester Street
Items available from the General Register Office of Northern Ireland:
This item is available for use within the State Library of South Australia.
O'Kief, Coshe Mang, Slieve Lougher, and Upper Blackwater in Ireland, by Albert Eugene Casey
If your ancestors came from north-west Cork or east Kerry (Sliabh Luachra) it may be worth investigating this compilation.
O'Kief, Coshe Mang, Slieve Lougher, and Upper Blackwater in Ireland is a 15-volume work containing transcriptions of parish registers, histories of Cork and Kerry, the Annals of the Four Masters, headstone inscriptions, newspaper marriage and death notices the author's rather unusual speculations about the origins of the Celts, and the relationship of of the Irish to other European peoples.
The Cork City Council has compiled this helpful online index to the volumes.
The Claddagh's distinctive design depicts two hands clasping a heart, usually surmounted by a crown. The rings symbolise the qualities of love (the heart), friendship (the hands), and loyalty (the crown). A "Fenian" Claddagh ring, without a crown, is a slightly different take on the design. Claddagh rings are popular among the Irish and those of Irish heritage, as symbols of friendship, and as engagement and wedding rings.
Claddagh rings are most often used as engagement and wedding rings. There are several mottos and wishes associated with the ring, such as: "Let love and friendship reign." The Claddagh is sometimes handed down mother-to-eldest daughter or grandmother-to-granddaughter. According to Irish author Colin Murphy, the way in which a Claddagh ring was worn with the intention of conveying the wearer's relationship status: