Irish / Resources

The oldest Irish genealogical society…

Today there are many options for us to choose from when researching our Irish ancestors – but it wasn’t always this way.  In those dark days before the internet and the recent interest in family history there were far fewer choices.  But, even several decades ago, the Irish Genealogical Research Society (IGRS) was a favorite of researchers with its unique resources found nowhere else  It was founded 80 years ago in 1936 and its headquarters are in London where it has the world’s largest and most important collection of Irish genealogical material held in private hands. A branch was established in Dublin in 1967/

Back in 2011, John Grenham – the dean of Irish genealogists – referred to the IGRS as the “great granddaddy of all Irish family history societes.”

IGRS LogoThe society states that its book collection includes “hundreds of published studies of families, pedigrees, family trees and surname histories. There are also guides on tracing Irish ancestry and descriptions of source material; an extensive number of county and town trade and street directories, some dating back to the eighteenth century; county, town, diocesan and parochial histories; a set of the Reports of the Keeper of the Public Records in Ireland 1882-1936; journals from many societies relevant to Irish genealogy; published gravestone inscriptions for the Irish from around the globe; histories of Irish communities which settled overseas.”

Their manuscript collection includes material compiled from the Public Record Office of Ireland before the great fire of 1922.  “For instance, the Hussey-Walsh collection contains references to over 100,000 Irish people and includes notes and abstracts from wills, chancery and exchequer bills, decrees, pleadings; also parish records and deeds and pedigrees relating to the Hussey and Walsh families from across Ireland and many other related and associated families. The vast majority of surnames in the Hussey-Walsh collection are not Hussey or Walsh.”

The society’s website has a Members-Only area which contains the majority of their online collections. There are, however, a few online databases free to the public including:

  • The 1901 Townlands index
  • The Irish Genealogist Database
  • The IGRS Early Irish Marriage Index
  • The IGRS Early Irish Birth Index
  • The Irish in Spain
  • Drumcondra civil parish, Co. Meath:  an 1871 census fragment
  • Elphin Diocesan Census 1749, Indexes
  • Dublin Directory, 1803, Indexes
  • Selected Finding Aids:  The Michael Leader Collection (parish registers & pedigrees)

Membership in the IGRS provides the following benefits:

  • The society’s annual journal, The Irish Genealogist
  • The twice-yearly Newsletter, which brings news about the society, interesting tid-bits and updates on holdings
  • A monthly full-color e-bulletin
  • Access to the members’ Discussion Forum
  • Access to the member-only section of the website
  • Free access in London to their collection of books and manuscripts
  • Access to the free library Look-Up Service
  • Special offers on book sales & discounts to popular websites subscriptions

Benefits from membership to the society are greatest for those who have researched their family back to 1850 and are stuck before that date.  Their unique collection may hold the key to finding records of your ancestors before 1850.  And, at about $36/year, a membership may be well worth it.

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