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The Irish Census records are a valuable resource for Irish family history research.  Even with the loss of earlier census records, the 1901 and 1911 give a clear snapshot of Irish inhabitants, household by household.

Irish Census

1901 and 1911 Census of Ireland

The Census records for these two early 20th century Censuses give information about every household in Ireland.  This information includes family members, occupations, ages, counties of birth, literacy and marital status. In addition, the forms associated with each household return give further information as to the type of building as well as the occupancy and the occupation of the family.

The House and Building return is known officially as Form B.1 and these returns accompany each household in the census. 

Further returns for the Out-Offices and Farm Steadings Return Form known as Form B.2 are also available for households with additional buildings attached to their holding. In many cases, these forms are more common with rural households as opposed to urban households.

The Censuses can also be searched by a variety of options including religion, occupation, relationship to head of family, literacy status, county or country of origin, Irish language proficiency, specified illnesses, and child survival information.  These options can be very helpful if there is difficulty with finding a family member or household.  In order to avail of this option, use the Search form above, and click on the “More Search Options” button at the bottom of the form and from a dropdown menu, one of the above options can be chosen. 

Irish Census Basic Search Options

Irish Census Basic Search Options

Irish Census More Search Options

Irish Census advanced search

Search the 1901/1911 Census, Form A and B

The 1911 Census also asked other questions and in particular, the number of children born in each family and those living was a question asked as well as the number of years that a couple was married.  These two new features of that particular Census can also be used to narrow down further family history. 

1841 and 1851 Census Returns 

The loss of the earlier Census records is a hurdle for anyone interested in tracing their Family history, but all is not lost.  There are a number of earlier Censuses available on the National Archives website and these should not be overlooked as they may contain information.

There are extracts for 1821-1851 which are available for a number of counties – particularly for the 1841 and 1851 Census Returns. 

1821 Census of Ireland

Picture above: Excerpt from the 1821 Census of Ireland Returns for Abbey Lane, in Athenry Town.

In addition, the Census Search Forms for the 1841 & 1851 Census Returns are available as a separate link on the National Archives site. These forms were used for those applications who wanted to avail of the Old Age Pensions Act of 1908.  In order to have a successful application, they needed to prove that they were 70 years of age upon the date of application.  The 1841 & 1851 Census returns were needed for that purpose. 

1841 Return for Omagh

Picture above: Excerpt from the 1841 Census of Ireland Returns for Omagh in County Tyrone.

Search 1841 and 1851 Census Returns

The next awaited Census is that of 1926 which will become available in the next 5 years.  This Census will be of invaluable assistance as it is the first Census that the Irish Free State undertook as its own country.  Information on this will be updated as it becomes available. 

Watch our webinar on Irish Census and Substitutes

Do your ancestors appear on either the 1901 or 1911 Census? Add them to their Irish place of origin and share their story with people living there today and descendants of the area now living all over the world.

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We hope you have found the information we have shared helpful. While you are here, we have a small favour to ask. Ireland Reaching Out is a non-profit organisation that relies on public funding and donations to ensure a completely free family history advisory service to anyone of Irish heritage who needs help connecting with their Irish place of origin. If you would like to support our mission, please click on the donate button and make a contribution. Any amount, big or small, is appreciated and makes a difference. 

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