Monday, 11 April 2011

I is for Irish Censuses

In a number of previous posts, I have mentioned the Irish Census of 1901 and 1911.  Wondering why I haven't mentioned earlier censuses?  Censuses were taken in Ireland every ten years starting in 1821, but very little of them survive.  This page from the Irish National Archives tells you which counties have some (I repeat "some") remaining early censuses.

Because so little is available, many Irish family historians rely on census substitutes such as the Griffith's Valuation which list the heads of households of virtually all the households in Ireland.  The information in the Griffith's Valuation is certainly helpful but it does not give you a full list of inhabitants nor any indication of dates of birth.

As such, for those of us whose ancestors left Ireland late, the 1901 and 1911 Irish Censuses offer a gold mine of information.  The data varies somewhat between the two censuses, but I've found wonderful information such as:
  • Occupations -- My people were mostly farmers, but I learned that between 1901 and 1911, cousin Patrick Moynihan in Caherolickane became a shopkeeper as well as farmer.
  • Who could speak Irish -- My great-grandfather Jeremiah Moynihan could, so could my great-great-grandfather Patrick Leahy.
  • Who was blind -- Patrick knew Irish but could no longer read it, as he was blind at age 80.
  • At what age my grandparents' generation learned to read -- My grandparents were four and five in the 1901 census.  They couldn't read yet but their siblings over age 7 could.
  • How many children a woman had -- The 1911 Census tells me that my great-grandmother Hanora (Harnedy) Moynihan had ten children but only 9 were still living.
Perhaps the best thing about the Irish Censuses is that they are available free online.  The Irish Archives partnered with Library and Archives Canada to digitize the 1901 and 1911 Censuses.  I love this line from the Irish Archives site:   "As a fellow national archival institution,  Library and Archives Canada share our values in relation to preservation of, and access to, our documented heritage."

Yay Canada!


  1. I have chosen you for the "One Lovely Blog Award!" You can pick up your award by visiting my blog "The Sum of All My Research" at for your badge and acceptance rules and Keep up the great Blogging!

  2. Congratulations Kate!!!! On the award! Way to go!

  3. The verdict is still out on the research of my Irish ancestors McKeough from Tipperary. One day I would like to visit Ireland just to get a sense of where these ancestors once lived.

  4. Ireland is such a beautiful country, with a relaxed pace of life. You would love to visit, Gail!

  5. I wish better Irish records had been kept. My father's ancestors came from Ireland to England somewhere prior to 1756 when they came to the U.S. The researchers in my family have only been able to trace things to that move in England.

    On my mother's side, the genealogy has been traced back to the 11th century with names recorded in the Domesday Book, which is really cool. The family estate still stands.

    Someday I hope I can visit Ireland and England.

    Tossing It Out