National Archives of Ireland
The National Archives of Ireland is where researchers and members of the public can view original documents and records from departments of state, the courts, public bodies as well as many private collections.
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.
What does the National Archives do?
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 provision of educational services relating to archives
Many of the archives held 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. Because of this, 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.
Using the National Archives
You can search for records online or in person. The National Archives holds millions of records and you should read about how it organises its catalogue on the National Archives website before visiting. You can also read research guides, which contain information on specific research topics.
You can search for a record using the National Archives’ online catalogue, but not all records are listed online so you may need to use the hard copy catalogue which is available in person at the reading room.
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, although you will need to apply for a Reader’s Ticket when you arrive.
Currently it is necessary to book a time in advance. Reader's tickets are free and last for three years. You can apply for a Reader’s Ticket on your first visit. You should bring:
- A photo ID, such as a driver’s license or passport
- Proof of your address, such as a utility bill
In order to look at the archives you will have to sign the ‘Rules for Readers’ which are written to provide a comfortable working environment for readers and to keep the archives safe.
If are interested in an archive that is held in off-site storage you should order it in advance. You will need to know the correct reference code and place the order at least 3 days before your visit. You cannot advance order archives that are held onsite.
Getting copies of archives
Copies of the archives are available at the National Archives. These are generally in the form of photocopies, copies from microforms (small-scale images of the original document) or copies from digital images.
You are not able to make copies of the archives yourself, although if you ask for permission from the Archivist on Duty you may be able to take digital photographs for your personal use. You can order copies in the Reading Room by e-mail or through the post. You can collect them or have them posted to your address. The National Archive provides a summary of the fees for copies on their website.
Other archive collections
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.
Researching your family tree
Many records relevant to Irish family history can be found within the National Archives. The archive has digitized many relevant records which are freely available on their genealogy website. They also provide a free genealogy advisory service which is currently available through email. If you wish to hire a professional researcher to look into your genealogy for you, you can contact an accredited genealogist.
Records relating to births, marriages and deaths are not held in the National Archives. For these, you must contact the General Register Office – see ‘Further Information and Contacts' below.
Further Information and Contacts
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:
For archives of the Department of Defence and the Defence Forces, which are held in the Military Archives, contact: