Monday, July 20, 2015

Thoughts On The NLI Parish Registers

Married Cornelius Ryan & Alice Dwyer in presence of John Lacey, Mchl Ryan & Tim Dwyer Churchfield

     I have to start by saying I haven't found alot in the registers that is new, although I'm far from done.  I began by confirming the dates of events I had collected over the years from other sources and was pleasantly surprised to find they were all correct.  Several years ago I commissioned Tipperary Excel Heritage to find my Ryan and Dwyer ancestors in South Tipp, (I had no choice, only they had Cashel & Emly records), they sent me among other things, a transcription of the record from Anacarty/Donohill Parish, of the marriage of my 3rd great-grandparents Cornelius Ryan and Alice Dwyer, witnesses John Lacey and Michael Ryan.  That was all correct, but in looking at the actual image, (see above),  I found there was a third witness to the marriage, Tim Dwyer!  In browsing through the marriage register it became clear that having three witnesses was rather common in Anacarty Parish.  

     Another thing I discovered was that every other entry in the baptism and marriage records of that particular parish contained the surname Ryan and/or Dwyer, and I'm not exaggerating.  Sometimes it was even a Ryan marrying another Ryan or vice versa!  Imagine how overwhelming it would have been to travel thousands of miles to Ireland, with a limited time to stay, and finding those entries, many with the same forenames as well.  It would have taken the whole trip to even begin to sort them all out... after I finished crying.

     Seeing those registers online brought home how hard they can be to decipher and how many gaps there are.  Even when the date you're seeking is included in the available records, the particular page you need may be unreadable.  The page upon which I'm sure Uncle John Crotty's baptism in Tramore Parish resides is virtually blank.  All that remains now, 200 years later, are a few ghostly faded loops of what were once letters, widely scattered on a  glaring white page.  The following page however,  is infuriatingly legible.  Another interesting thing was the language the parish priest used to record the events.  Some parishes were in English, as seen above, others in Latin.  Here in the USA, all the 19th century Catholic records I've seen are written in Latin.

     I'm quite annoyed the parish records of Tramore in County Waterford are not complete.  On the pay site RootsIreland I found the baptism of my great-great-grandfather Philip Power in Tramore on 20 November 1857.  The online baptisms at the NLI site stop at October 1831.  I know those later baptism registers exist, why aren't they online I wonder?  Same with Listowel Parish in County Kerry, the free site Irish Genealogy Limited, has a transcription of the 1860 baptism of great-great-grandma Mary Gunn, but the NLI site has no baptisms for Listowel after 1855.  I really don't mean to complain, this site is an amazing milestone in Irish genealogy and well done; it's easy to navigate, has maps to help you locate the correct parish and surrounding parishes along with an added feature I didn't notice at first, the dates of the register pages being viewed appear in the upper left corner--so helpful.  A big thank you to the NLI!


  1. The Tramore parish registers are all but impossible to get access to. Full copies exist at the WHGC, and the "archivist/genealogist" ( priest ) there will look up records for a fee. FYI I have Powers and Crottys from Tramore in my tree as well.

  2. Well, after they wanted to charge me in the neighborhood of $100 for dates they knew they didn't have, I refuse to deal with them at all. I'm interested to hear more about your Power and Crotty ties...

  3. I would like to hear more about Crotty's from Tramore.
    I was told that the baptism and marriage records for that parish were destroyed in a fire. They are available before 1835 and then the civil records begin in 1864, but between those years I have no way to trace my ancestors!! Very frustrating - unless there are connections with you ladies? Thank you.