The Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Heather Humphreys TD, and the Minister for Social Protection, Leo Varadkar TD, have today (Thursday) announced that over 2.5 million images of historic records of Births, Marriages and Deaths from the General Register Office (GRO) are now available online for the first time.
The images, which include over 12.5 million individual records dating back as far as 1864, will add considerably to the large volume of historical data already accessible on www.irishgenealogy.ie free of charge.
Among the records are the birth, marriage and death register for Tom Crean, the Antarctic explorer, whose grandson Brendan O’Brien joined the Ministers for today’s event in the National Library. The online database also includes death register entries for the Leaders of the 1916 Rising, including James Connolly, Thomas Clarke, Padraig H Pearse and Eamonn Ceannt.
Speaking today Minister Humphreys said:
“This is the first time that this huge volume of records is being made available online and it is a very important development in family history research for Irish people and Irish descendants both at home and abroad. Anyone wishing to research their family history will have a veritable treasure trove of records available at the click of a button and I’ve no doubt that these records will help unlock many mysteries that people have been trying to solve for years.
“I am delighted that through the cooperation of our two Government Departments, Minister Varadkar and I can expand the range of records available online for those wishing to find out more about their family history. Genealogy is becoming increasingly popular, and is an important source of tourism. By providing as much information as possible free online, the Irish Government is leading the way internationally and encouraging the Diaspora to come to Ireland to explore their roots.
“The website www.irishgenealogy has grown to be an invaluable resource for historians, researchers and those interested in looking into their family tree. We have re-engaged with our history throughout this centenary year in an unprecedented way, and I am committed to further developing this online resource in the years ahead.”
Speaking today Minister Varadkar:
“These records give us a new insight into our past and our forebears. We are delighted to launch this incredible set of online records, which will help people in Ireland and around the world to reconstruct their own family histories. It is a triumph of exploration, because the records allow us all to explore our own past, and discover new things about our ancestors. What used to require weeks and months of research in dusty archives can now be done online in a matter of minutes.
“Given the theme of exploration, it’s fitting that we are joined at this launch by the grandson and great-grandson of one of the greatest polar explorers of all time: Tom Crean. For the first time, the original register entries of Tom Crean’s birth, marriage and death are now available to view. These records also provide an incredible insight into the 1916 Rising which helped to create the modern Irish State. We can view the death registers for its leaders, including James Connolly, Patrick Pearse, and Thomas Clarke. It helps to bring the past alive, and we can piece together fragments to create a whole story.”