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Irish Resources for Family Historians: Occupations

This State Library of South Australia guide highlights resources available at the Library as well as various databases and websites that may assist your search for ancestors in Ireland


When trying to locate information about someone's occupation don't forget resources such as birth, death and marriage certificates, church records, electoral rolls, census records and local directories.

Useful Websites

Londonderry Corporation Minute Books 1673 - 1901

The earliest minute volume dates from 1673. The original hard-copy Corporation minute books are housed in two locations – volumes covering the period 1673 to 1841 reside at (Public Records Office of Northern Ireland) PRONI in Belfast, while the later volumes from 1841 to 1969 are kept in the Foyle Valley Railway Museum. To enable increased access to the 1673-1901 part of the early minute book collection, a partnership was established in December 2009 between PRONI and the Derry City Council Archive to produce digital copies which could be accessed online. This online resource is the product of the partnership.
Each minute book begins with the date of the meeting of the Common Council and a list of those members in attendance.

The Workhouse

The Workhouse in Ireland and England was the end of the road for many chronically unemployed, the poor, the old and inform, orphan children and 'disorderly women'.  

From 1703 a House of Industry was set up in Dublin.  It housed up to 100 men and 60 women at any one time.  It also took in abandoned children aged between 5  and 16.

In 1730 an Act of Parliament extended the role of the workhouse to cover all foundling children.  The House of Industry became known as the Foundling Hospital and Workhouse of the City of Dublin.  With this new role came the revolving door system.  Someone wishing to leave a child anonymously could place it in a basket which was attached to a revolving door, ring the porter's bell, and then depart.

In 1735, the Irish Parliament passed a similar Act for 'erecting a workhouse in the City of Cork for employing and maintaining the poor, punishing vagabonds and providing for and educating foundling children.'  ...  read more

Links of interest:

Irish Workhouse Rules (1844)

The Workhouse Orphans (girls sent overseas including Australia)

Report to the Children's Apprenticeship Board (about workhouse children sent to Australia)

Guide to the Records of the Poor Law