National Archives of Ireland
The National Archives of Ireland is located in Bishop Street, Dublin 8. These Archives contains many documents that are important and useful research tools for researchers and citizens alike. The documents held in the Archives help to provide an understanding of the social, economic and political history of Ireland. The National Archives was formed in 1988, when the Public Record Office (founded 1867, formerly at the Four Courts) and the State Paper Office (founded 1702, formerly at Dublin Castle) were merged to create a single institution.
The functions of the National Archives include the following:
- the preservation, restoration, arrangement and description of archives;
- the preparation of guides, lists, indexes and other finding aids to archives;
- making archives available for public inspection;
- making and providing copies of archives;
- the publication of archives, finding aids and other material relating to archives;
- the provision of educational services relating to archives.
Many of the archives accessioned by the Public Record Office of Ireland before 1922 were destroyed by fire and explosion at the beginning of the Irish Civil War in June 1922. Consequently, the archives that are now held by the National Archives date mainly from the 19th and 20th centuries, although some date back as far as the 13th century. They can be summarised as follows:
- archives of Government Departments relating mainly to the period 1922-1985;
- archives of the Chief Secretary's Office and its associated offices for the period 1790-1922;
- archives of other state agencies operating mainly in the 19th and 20th centuries, but including some archives from the 17th and 18th centuries;
- archives of the courts and probate registries dating mainly from the late 19th and 20th centuries, but including a few items dating back to the 14th century;
- archives acquired from other sources, including Church of Ireland parishes, harbour boards, Health Service Executive (HSE) Areas (formerly known as 'health boards'), hospitals, schools, charities, trade unions, business firms, solicitors' offices, estate offices and private individuals, relating especially to the 19th and 20th centuries, but including material from the 17th and 18th centuries;
- transcripts, calendars, abstracts and indexes of archives dating from the 13th to the 19th century that were destroyed in 1922.
You can find more information on the records held here.
Documents cannot be removed from the National Archives building, but you can inspect them in the Reading Room. The Reading Room is open to all members of the public holding a current Reader's Ticket, which can be applied for on arrival at the National Archives.
When a reader orders archives that are held in offsite storage, the archives are normally produced in the Niall McCarthy Reading Room at Bishop Street at 10.00 am on the following day.
The archives of the Department of Defence and the Defence Forces are not housed at the National Archives in Bishop Street but at the Military Archives in Cathal Brugha Barracks, Rathmines, Dublin 6. Likewise, the archives of the Geological Survey of Ireland are housed at the Geological Survey Building, Beggars Bush, Dublin 4. To view these archives, you are advised to write or phone in advance.
These research guides contain detailed information on specific research topics and collections and are intended both for prospective researchers and general readers. They may provide contextual information to record series created by specific Government agencies, in addition to administrative histories of those same bodies. Further information on research guides is available here.
Many records relevant to Irish family history can be found within the National Archives. These include census returns, wills and other testamentary records, the Tithe Applotment Books and the Primary Valuation (also known as Griffith's Valuation). Although the staff of the National Archives will assist you in finding any relevant records in their custody, they cannot undertake research on your behalf. They do, however, hold a list of genealogy researchers.
Records relating to births, marriages and deaths are not held in the National Archives. For these, you must contact the General Register Office – see 'Where to apply' below.
Copies of the archives are available at the National Archives. These will generally be in the form of photocopies, copies from microforms or copies from digital images, depending on whether the document is suitable for photocopying or whether a microform or digital image already exists. Bound volumes, maps or fragile documents cannot be photocopied and alternative methods of copying should be discussed with National Archives staff.
You will not be able to copy the archives yourself. You may order copies in the Reading Room by e-mail or through the post. You may collect them or have them posted to your address, depending on your requirements.
The Reading Room may be used by any member of the public who holds a current Reader's Ticket. Members of the public may apply for a Reader's Ticket on the day of their first visit to the National Archives. They must obey the Rules for Readers.
The Reading Room is open from 9.15 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday, excluding public holidays.
Admission to the National Archives is free.
A Reader's Ticket is necessary in order to consult most categories of material and is also free.
A summary of the fees for copies is available on the National Archives of Ireland website.
How to apply
You will need to present a Reader's Ticket to access the Reading Room in the National Archives. You can apply for a ticket at the reception desk in the front hall of the National Archives. You must present some form of photographic identification when applying for a Reader's Ticket. The tickets carry a photograph and are issued for periods ranging from one day to 3 years. However, they are not valid in other research institutions.
Where to apply
For details of documents held in the National Archives, contact:
For enquiries relating to registers of births, deaths and marriages, adoption and stillbirths, contact the General Register Office. If you want to order a copy of a testamentary record from the National Archives but do not know the details of the deceased person that are required, you may also make an application to this address:
General Register Office
Tel:+353 90 663 2900
Locall:1890 25 20 76
Fax:+353 90 663 2999
For archives of the Department of Defence and the Defence Forces, which are held in the Military Archives, contact:
Cathal Brugha Barracks
Tel:+353 (0)1 804 6457