|National Archives Building|
Some fabulous records came online yesterday. The Irish National Archives in conjunction with findmypast have uploaded the fragments of the 1821, 1831, 1841 and 1851 Irish censuses along with the Census Search Forms! This is part of the 100 records in 100 days promise from findmypast, and they are free. There are really not many surviving census fragments, (I didn't find any ancestors though you might), but the Search Forms contain many more names and most if not all counties are included.
The forms are tied to the Old Age Pension Act of 1908, which covered England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales; it granted pensions to those over 70 with an income of less than £31 10 00 annually. Proving one was over 70 presented a problem in Ireland. Civil registration didn't begin there until 1864, so anyone born before that year had no documents to prove their age. The solution was to show that the person in question had been enumerated in the 1841 or 1851 censuses, which in 1908 still existed. The forms officials used to find the applicants in the census included more information than the census itself, they also asked for father's name and the mother's maiden name.
On this search page, you plug in the county you're searching, and a page of hits appears, at which point you can sort by last name or address. The beauty of these records is that in addition to learning mother's maiden name, many more persons can be found in them than in the census fragments which are quite limited. Of course the individual had to be alive in 1908, over 70, and living in Britain or Ireland, so famine immigrants naturally wouldn't be found among these records.
This record set will be uploaded to Family Search soon, and records from the Valuation Office are slated for release before long. What a wonderful time to be an Irish researcher!