Genealogy & Family History

The Local Studies library also provides assistance and advice on family history matters. With advance booking we can assist you with your family history query when you visit in person. If we can include here. We also welcome queries via phone and email.

How can we help you?

What census records are available for researching family history?

The only substantial record returns available are the census records from the years 1901 and 1911. These are freely available on

I cannot find a family member in the 1901 and 1911 censuses, what can I do?

Sometimes, it’s useful to know the DED (district electoral division) when searching the census returns accurately. If you do not have a correct spelling of the townland or street name the database is a useful resource for determining the electoral division. If the surname you are looking for does not appear, you can also try searching place names under the ‘browse census’ option.

How do I find a birth, death or marriage record for a family member?

The civil registration of births, deaths and marriages began in Ireland in 1864, with non-Catholic marriages registered from the year 1845.

These records are available to view on the website

Currently birth records are available to the year 1923, marriages to the year 1948 and deaths to the year 1973.

How do I find where my ancestor is buried?

When looking for burial records, it is important to consider that many graveyards and cemeteries in the southern half of Ireland do not have burial records beginning before the start of the 20th century. A burial ground with a church attached is usually under the jurisdiction of the church while a cemetery (generally without a church) is by and large under the control of a local authority such as Cork County Council and Cork City Council. A limited number of burial registers are available on:

The Local Studies Library has a burial register from Kilmurry Cemetery dating to the late nineteenth century. We also have a copy of a burial register from Curraghkippane Cemetery.

A number of 20th century burial registers for parts of West Cork have been computerised by Skibbereen Heritage Centre, see

In addition, some graveyards in Cork county have been surveyed. For the details of these cemeteries, please see

It might be also possible to find out the name of the graveyard from the death notice in the newspaper. We have access in our library to the archive of newspapers on the database:

Where can I find information about Church of Ireland records?

Two thirds of the Church of Ireland parish records were destroyed in the Irish Civil War in 1922. Consequently, no more than approximately one third of Church of Ireland parishes have records which survive.

If you are looking for ancestors from North Cork or parts of East Cork, you may like to view the list of parishes covered on

In addition, the Cobh Genealogical Project has computerised large numbers of records in Co. Cork which survived 1922/ Pat Mahony of the Cobh Genealogical Project can be contacted at to commission a search.

The Representative Church Body (RCB) Library based in Dublin has a collection of some original registers and microfilm copies. Please see the following link

I recently bought an old house and I would like to find some information about the history of the building?

If the building was built prior to the mid- 19th century, the name of the principal householder who lived there at the time may be recorded in the Griffith’s Valuation. Also, some details may also be recorded in the Valuation Office books which are available on the following website: For period houses, there may be some information on the following websites: and

Searching the 1901 and 1911 census may also reveal the names of the residents of the house in the early 20th century.

I am trying to locate information from an article in an old newspaper. How can you help?

We have numerous historic newspapers in bound or microfilm format. We also provide access for library patrons on our Library PC to the historic newspaper database: For a list of our newspaper holdings, please click here.

Where do I begin?

Collect as much information as you can from family members and relatives.

Sketch out a draft of your family tree with the information that you have, regardless of how little information you think you have.

Ask older relatives about the location of any burial plots. Visit these cemeteries and take photographs of headstones. Also collect copies of memorial cards.

Carrying out research can be a dauting task, but breaking down your research into different areas can really help.

The main records to check for family history include parish registers, Census records of 1901 and 1911, civil records of births, deaths, marriages, property records (Griffith’s Valuation and the Tithe Applotment Books)

When carrying out family history research, it is useful to understand the different administrative units.

Townlands: The smallest and most numerous administrative unit. There are 5,429 townlands in Cork County.

Civil Parish: Based on older ecclesiastical parishes, but used as administrative unit for Tithe Applotment books, Griffith’s valuation. It is not necessarily the equivalent of a modern-day Roman Catholic/Church of Ireland parish.

Poor Law Union: Administrative union used to provide a system to support workhouses in the 19th century. The poor law union is equivalent to the area of the superintendent’s registrar’s district (useful to know for the civil registration of births, deaths and marriages)

Baronies: An administrative unit larger than a parish, possibly of Norman origin. There are 23 baronies in Cork.

Useful Resources

Parish Records
Civil Records
Property Records
Other Records
Family History Booklet

Catholic Parish Records

Cork County is divided between three Catholic Dioceses: Principally Cork & Ross, Cloyne with some areas of the north-west and west of the county in the diocese of Kerry (Millstreet, Castletownbere)

The Catholic Parish Records for Cork and Ross and Kerry are available online via

The parish records for Cloyne are available on the subscription website:

The National Library of Ireland has digitised parish registers. It is not searchable by name, so it is necessary to know the parish of your ancestor and scroll through the individual pages. These can be viewed on the following website:

Other websites such as and have used the images from the National Library of Ireland website in order to index the records, making the indexes searchable for most parishes in Ireland up to approximately 1880.

For information on parish records relating to the deanery of Cork (which includes Watergrasshill, Glanmire, Glounthaune, Passage West, Douglas, Ballincollig, St. Mary’s and St. Anne’s (North Cathedral) and St. Patrick’s and Blackrock and you have not located them on the above websites, please contact us:

Church of Ireland Parish Records

Approximately two thirds of Church of Ireland parish records were destroyed by fire in the Irish Civil War. If you are looking for ancestors in North and East Cork, it may be worth looking at the list of parishes on

The Representative Church Body (RCB) Library, based in Dublin can be contacted at  Many Church of Ireland microfilm copies as well as some original registers are held at the RCB Library.

This link provides a list of all the Church of Ireland parishes along with cover dates of Baptisms, Marriages and Burials. Those colour-coded yellow are located in the library, and there are hyperlinks to the detailed lists.

The RCB Library is not in a position to undertake general research, but the colour-coded list should enable people to work out where records of interest are located. Visits to the Library are welcome but booking is advised in advance. Further information on opening hours and about visiting may be found here and here


The civil registration of births deaths and marriages began in Ireland in 1864, with non-Catholic marriage records from 1845.

Records are available until the following years:

Births to 1923

Marriages: to 1948

Deaths to 1973


Searching the civil records

Detailed civil records for County Cork are not available online. However, civil indexes are available to search on a number of free websites such as and, as well as subscription websites and

As it’s only possible to search the indexes under the Superintendent Registrar’s District (formerly Poor Law Union) rather than the smaller area of the Registrar’s District, townland etc. sometimes results can be quite ambiguous. The success rate of obtaining the correct index and subsequent correct certificate is very much dependent on the frequency of the name (both first and surname), the amount of information available to the researcher and the timeframe.

You can send for a photocopy of the birth/marriage/death certificate from the GRO (General Register Office, based in Roscommon) by following the link on the website

See the following map of the Superintendent Registrar’s Districts in County Cork:

It is important to remember that individuals may have not know their exact age or date of birth, so you may find age discrepancies between records. It is useful to broaden out the search years in the search field when researching records.

Marriage records are also useful as they include the name and occupation of the father of the bride and father of the groom. The bride and groom’s mother’s name was only added to civil marriage certificates in 1956.

There are few surviving census records before 1901 and there are currently no census records to view after 1911.

The 1901 and 1911 are available to search for free online:

It is possible to search under occupation and if your ancestor was born in a different county in the ‘more search options’.

The 1911 Census also includes the number of years a couple was married for, as well as the number of children living at the time of the census.

The Census also includes the Enumerator’s Extract (Form N) House and Buildings Return (Form B1) and the Out-offices and Farm-Steadings Return (Form B2). This information is useful to see the number of rooms in the house, number of windows in the front and if the roof was of thatch or slate.

It is important to know the DED/electoral division. This information is available in the Townlands index in the library or via

Griffith’s Valuation

Griffith’s Valuation was the first comprehensive survey of practically all those who held property-landlord or tenant. It was carried out for the purposes of determining the amount of tax property holders were liable to pay. It includes the head of the household (not other family members), the immediate lessor or landlord and the number of acres within the holding. Surveys of urbans areas such as towns and villages were also carried out.

It was completed for the County of Cork between approximately 1851 and 1853.

The Primary (Griffith’s) Valuation with maps can be viewed online via

Although not vital it is useful to know the civil parish of the townland of your ancestor in order to view the correct record.

It is also possible to view the valuation office books (the preparatory books that led to the final survey) via

The Tithe Applotment Books

 The Tithe Applotment Books were compiled between 1823 and 1837 in order to establish how much occupiers of land of more than one acre should pay in taxes to the Church of Ireland.

Like Griffith’s Valuation it only lists the head of the household and not other family members, but it is useful in pinpointing a surname to a particular townland.

The tithe records are divided according to civil parish. If you think that your ancestor was a farmer in the 1820s/1830s it may be worth searching the TABs on or in the library on our microfilm machines.


A large amount of wills were destroyed in the fire in the Public Record Office in 1922, however copies of wills proved in District Registries survive in Will Registers from 1858-1900 which are accessible on the National Archives website: Will Calendars, Diocesan and Prerogative Wills and Soldiers’ wills are also available to view on this website.

Burial Records/Gravestones Inscriptions/Death notices

The area of burial records and gravestone inscriptions can be confusing, not least because many are not computerised and secondly there is no central database or repository in which to find all these records.

Many graveyards in the southern half of Ireland do not have records beginning before the start of the 20th century. Secondly one needs to bear in mind that graveyards (i.e. a burial ground with a church attached) are usually under the jurisdiction of the Church, while a cemetery (generally without a church) is by and large under the control of the local authority such as Cork County Council or Cork City Council.

While a small quantity of original registers are available for consultation at Cork City and County Archives, it is necessary to book in advance to view these collections. Contact

  • A number of 20th century burial registers for parts of West Cork have been computerised by Skibbereen Heritage Centre: Also on the website is the West Cork Graveyard Survey which comprises inscriptions details and photographs of headstones.


  • For many other cemeteries it may be necessary to contact the registrar for the particular burial ground for further details. Contact


  • Headstone inscriptions have been indexed for various cemeteries in Co. Cork. Examples of collections and journals in which to locate possible inscriptions include O’Kief Coshe Mang, which covers north-west Cork and the Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society. Both of these resources are available to view in the Local Studies Library.


  • The website can be of particular use if the burial ground you are looking for has been indexed here. Photographs of headstones of many burial grounds are available to view. The ability to zoom in on the headstone images on the website is hugely advantageous. As the information has been transcribed, it is possible to search under name, graveyard etc.

Death notices did not become commonplace in Ireland until their publication was made mandatory in the 1940s. Consequently, prior to this the social class of the individual frequently determines the probability of locating a death notice for them today. Newspapers such as the Cork Examiner (now known as the Irish Examiner) and the Evening Echo are available on microfilm or to search on the subscription website which is available in the Local Studies Library.

Other miscellaneous records

Irish Petty Court Sessions,  some British Army Service records and more available on the subscription website which is available to search in the library.

We have compiled a comprehensive booklet on family history called ‘Walking in the Footsteps of your Ancestors’. This provides a useful beginner’s guide to family history research in Cork and the nature of the records that are available. Copies are available in the Local Studies Library. To view an online version of the booklet, please click on the following link:

Walking in the Footsteps of your Ancestors Booklet

Horse Fair, Buttevant

This ancient horse fair is held in Buttevant every year on July 12th. The fair is known as Cahirmee Horse Fair as it originally took place in the townland of Cahirmee which is located about 3 miles east of Buttevant.