Irish Catholic Church Records

baptismal font

If you have Irish Catholic ancestors, you’re in luck.  Well, at least you might be.  Are you feeling lucky?  Is the luck of the Irish with you today?

One of the wonderful things that can happen with Y DNA testing at Family Tree DNA is that you match someone who does have a direct ancestor connection overseas to a place and time.  In my case, my McDowell line matches a McDowell line in King’s Moss, Northern Ireland.  Of course, that doesn’t mean my Murtough McDowell who died in 1752 was born in the same place in Ireland, but it’s more information that I had before and it gives me a place overseas to search.  Where to begin that search?  Well, the church records make the most sense, if they exist, and now many are newly available.

Irish Catholic record images are now online back through 1740 where the records are available.  Catholics, in general, keep fastidious records and they are often full of great genealogical information.  Plus, you have more than one opportunity.  It’s not just births/baptisms, marriages and deaths that are recorded.  Often confirmations are included as well.

Furthermore, these are indexed, just not in the same online location.  The bad news…unless I’ve missed something, which is certainly possible as I only did a quick look-see, you have to check each parish individually.  I hope that sometime in the future they can provide a single index since many of us don’t know where our ancestors were from in Ireland or exactly when they were born.

Also, I noticed in the Irish Ancestors search that they note “all known copies excluding originals in local custody.”  Hmmm.  So maybe this isn’t quite everything.

You can read more about the project here and access the registers here.  You can inquire by surname here and here.

Dare we hope for Protestant records to be indexed and brought online as well?  That would help a lot with those Scotch-Irish families.



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10 thoughts on “Irish Catholic Church Records

  1. Irish Catholic parish records are in various places and forms, and after spending the better part of two years slogging through them I have a few tips. RC parish records, the earlier ones, say pre 1875 are lacking in the death records department. You will rarely see them listed. Inference helps. Sometimes the death of a young child might be suggested by a birth/baptismal record with the same parents that repeats the name of the departed child, in total, or in part. So no, there aren’t two Joseph Edward Smiths born three years apart in the same family because it was common for the next child of the same gender to be named after the departed older sibling. Tip two is that RC priests had an irritating tendency, in some parishes, to “Latinize” the forename in the baptismal record. Paul might end up as Paulious, Ellen as Ellenora, Luke as Luccam and endless variations spelled in crazy ways. Tip three is keep track of the sponsors if they are listed and check them against the image, if it’s available (those images have information often left out of the transcriptions so they are really important). Once 16, a sibling could stand as sponsor at a baptism and tracking sponsors can help clarify the family unit and clue you in to “missing” older relatives, uncles and aunts and occasionally, the next wife, should you find a suspected baptism with the same father, parish, address, etc. but a different wife/mother listed. Go backwards, if you can, and look among those sponsors that are friends of the family that might “become” the family at a later date. Also, there are quite a few COI records coming online. They are often much more detailed and they do include death and burial records the RC records don’t keep. You may even find a duplicate marriage record because the happy couple tried to make both sides of the family happy and were married in both RC and COI churches (or maybe they were just making sure they were “covered”). Have fun!

  2. For Robin.
    Latin to English names in Ireland.

    Adalbertus = Albert or George
    Adam (Ade) = Adam
    Aedus = Hugh
    Aemilia = Emily
    Agna = Agnes, Nancy
    Agneta = Agnes
    Alanus = Alan
    Albertus = Albert
    Alesia, Alicia = Alice
    Alfredus, Aluredus = Alfred
    Alicia = Alice, Elsie, Alyssa
    Alienora, Eleanora, Elianora = Eleanor
    Aloisius = Aloysius, Louis, Luis
    Aloysius = Aloysius or Lewis
    Alvredus = Alfred
    Amica, Amata, Amia = Amy
    Anastasia = Anastasia or Nancy
    Andreas = Andrew
    Anna = Ann, Anne
    Antonius = Anthony
    Arcturus, Artorius, Arturus = Arthur
    Audoenus, Audoinus, Oeneus, Oenus = Owen
    Augustinus = Austin
    Avelina = Evelyn
    Bartholomeus = Bartholomew
    Beatrix = Betteris, Beatrice
    Benedicta (f.)= Benedict, Benet
    Benedictus (m.) = Benedict, Benet
    Bertrandus = Bertram
    Brigida, Brigitta = Bridget, Brigid
    Carolum, Carolus = Charles, Carl
    Caterina, Katerina, Katharina = Catherine
    Catharina = Catherine, Kathryn, Kathleen
    Cecilia = Cisley, Cecily
    Cecilius = Cecil
    Christiana, Christina = Christine
    Christophorus = Christopher
    Constantia, Custancia = Constance
    Daniele = Daniel
    Denisia, Dionisia = Denise
    Dionisius, Dionisius, Dionysius = Denis
    Donatus = Duncan
    Dorothea = Dorothy
    Eadmundus, Edmundus = Edmund, Edmond
    Eadwardus, Eduardus, Edwardus = Edward
    Lena = Helen, Ellen
    Elias = Ellis
    Elisabetha, Elizabetha = Elizabeth, Beth, Betty,
    Erchenbaldus = Archibald
    Eustachius = Eustace
    Eva = Eve
    Felicia = Felice
    Francisca (f.) = Frances
    Franciscus (m.) = Francis, Frank
    Fridericus = Frederick
    Georgius = George
    Gerardus = Gerard
    Gilebertus, Gislebertus = Gilbert
    Giraldus, Geroldus = Gerald
    Godefridus, Godefredus = Godfrey
    Goisfridus, Gosfridus = Geoffrey
    Gratia = Grace
    Gualterus = Walter
    Guglielmus, Gulielmus, Guilhelmus, Gulielmo, Gulielmum = William
    Haraldus = Harold
    Helena = Helen, Ellen, Nell, Aileen, Eileen
    Henricum, Henricus = Henry
    Henrietta = Henrietta or Harriet
    Hereweccus, Herveius = Henry
    Hieremias = Jeremiah
    Honorah = Nora, Norah, (Jane, Jean, Joan!)
    Honoria = Honour, Honor
    Hugo = Hugh
    Isabella = Isabel
    Ioannes, Joannes, Joannis, Johannes, Johannis = John
    Jacobus = James or Jacob
    Joanna, Johanna = Joan, Jane, Jeanne, Jeanette, Joanne, Sinead, Siobhan
    Johanna = Jane, Joan, Jean and Honora
    Josephum = Joseph
    Josias = Josiah
    Laurencia, Laurencius, Laurentium = Laurence, Lawrence
    Lucas = Luke
    Ludovicus, Lodovicus = Lewis, Louis
    Malachias = Malachy
    Marcus = Mark, Marcus
    Margareta, Margreta = Margaret
    Margeria = Margery
    Maria = Mary, Maureen, Molly, Marie
    Maria Anna = Mary Ann, Marian, Marianne
    Mariana = Marion
    Martinus = Martin
    Mathaeus, Mattheus, Mathias, Matthias = Matthew
    Matilda, Matildis, Matillis = Matilda, Maud
    Mauricius, Meuricius = Maurice
    Michaelem = Michael
    Milo = Miles
    Moyses = Moses
    Muriella, Miriela, Mirielda = Muriel
    Oliva = Olive
    Patricius, Patritius = Patrick
    Petrus = Peter
    Philippa, Philippe = Philip
    Radulfus, Radulphus = Ralph
    Randolphus = Randal, Randolph
    Reginaldus = Reynold
    Reimundus = Raymond
    Ricardus = Richard, Dick
    Rugerius = Roger, Rory
    Samuelem = Samuel
    Stephanus = Stephen
    Theodoricus = Theodore, Derek
    Thomasum = Thomas
    Timotheus = Timothy
    Tobias = Toby
    Vincencius = Vincent
    Willelmus, Guillelmus= William

  3. Wow! Thanks for the list of names. I’ve often wondered why I would see some of these names spelled in what I assumed was Latin, then I would see the person listed again as something familiar like Peter or Raymond. And thanks for another interesting and informative article.

  4. Reference: Roberta: “In my case, my McDowell line matches a McDowell line in King’s Moss, Northern Ireland. Of course, that doesn’t mean my Murtough McDowell who died in 1752 was born in the same place in Ireland, but it’s more information that I had before and it gives me a place overseas to search.”


    Is there any proof that your Murtough McDowell’s family is related to Ephraim McDowell born 1673 Londonberry, Northern Ireland and his wife Margaret Irvine born 1674 Aberdeen Scotland?

    I understand they (Ephraim and Margaret) were great-grandparents of the “famous” Ephraim McDowell (born 11 Nov 1771 in Augusta County, now Rockbridge County, Virginia), the ninth child of Samuel McDowell (1735-1817) and Mary (McClung) McDowell.

    Ephraim McDowell (1771-1830) of Danville, Boyle County, Kentucky and is where he began his practice as a surgeon. In 1802, he married Sarah Shelby, daughter of Isaac Shelby, war hero and twice governor of Kentucky.

    On December 13, 1809, Dr. McDowell diagnosed an ovarian tumor in Jane Todd Crawford of Green County, Kentucky. In his house on Christmas morning, 1809, Dr. Ephraim McDowell removed a 22.5 pounds tumor without anesthetic or antisepsis. This was the first successful removal of an ovarian tumor in the world. Mrs. Crawford lived another 32 years.

    Note: Samuel McDowell (1735-1817) served under George Washington in the French and Indian War, served as an aide-de-camp to Isaac Shelby in Lord Dunmore’s War, and was part of Nathaniel Greene’s campaign in the Revolutionary War. He was appointed one of the first district court judges in what would become the state of Kentucky. He was one of the leaders of the movement to separate Kentucky from Virginia, presiding over nine of the state’s ten constitutional conventions.

    Alice Ramer Rice Bratcher,, Kentucky

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