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Archive of the Month

Parish Register Accessions at the RCB Library During 2020 and 2021

 By Dr Susan Hood


The List of Church of Ireland Parish Registers is featured here as the first Archive of the Month of 2022. As holdings of parish registers in the Library’s custody have increased considerably – up from 1,159 collections in 2020, to 1,214 today, we felt it useful for researchers to highlight and draw attention to what acquisitions from parishes are new.




Since the Covid–19 pandemic began back in March 2020, accessions to the Library’s archival collections continued at an extraordinary pace, with significant transfers from the local custodies in which they were created to the permanent safe–keeping of the Library’s custody.

A total of 54 “new” parish collections that previously were not among the Library’s holdings have been transferred and accessioned during this period – each assigned with their own unique identity numbers, with the result that the Library now holds no less than 1,214 individual parish record collections.

Additionally, many other parishes which already had transferred records to the Library carried out impressive tidy–up work  during the prolonged lockdown periods, with several local clergy and conscientious parishioners transferring additional materials to the Library, where they have been added to existing collections, and their corresponding in–house descriptive lists revised and updated.

In 2020, parishes were particularly busy sorting historical records, and tranches of parish record materials from no less than 91 parishes came in. These included a large consignment of records from parishes in the dioceses of Ardfert, Emly Killaloe and Limerick and including some of the city parishes in Limerick, all of which were transferred from St Mary’s cathedral by the Dean of Limerick, and which we hope to profile at a later date.


Another important acquisition was the unusual rector’s register commenced by the Revd Hon. William O’Grady (1806–1859), rector of Killinane in the diocese of Kilmacduagh, 1836–59 containing his extensive notes and mid–19th century observations of local life, which we have previously featured here.

During 2021, among the significant new collections were those for the Ballybay group in county Monaghan, and also both Raphoe and St John’s Sligo cathedrals.

A detail from the front cover of the combined register for St John's, Sligo.
A detail from the front cover of the combined register for St John's, Sligo.

To give the public a sense of the volume of incoming materials, and what is new, alphabetical lists of the parish record accessioned during 2020 and 2021 respectively are being made available here as pdfs.

For the accessions in 2020 click here

For the accessions in 2021 click here

The full list colour–coded summary list of baptisms, marriages and burials has thus been extensively updated and is republished and current to January 2022, with live links for the lists of each of the 1,214 collections in the Library’s custody – those that are colour–coded yellow. Additional information about the whereabouts of all other Church of Ireland parishes is accounted for too with details of copies, transcripts and indexes, and what remains in local custody and other locations.



As we have previously acknowledged, the list represents the fruits of an ongoing and valuable collaborative project between the RCB Library and the Irish Genealogical Research Society (IGRS), more about which can be read here.

To access the updated List, click here.




For a short news item about the recent use of parish registers and their value for commemorating, please see this piece by historian Sylvia Turner here. This follows Sylvia’s earlier Archive of the Month from March 2021 here


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