Wednesday, 1 July, 2015
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More than 8 million eBooks are available free of charge on the Internet Archive in association with 1,100 libraries in North America, Europe and Asia. Millions of eBooks are also available on Google Books and on the Hathi Trust Digital Library (a partnership of American Universities). Family History Books from also has an amazing 150,000 digitized genealogy and family history publications. Many websites also have digital copies or transcriptions of books. So the logic of starting my site Free Irish eBooks becomes clear – there are too many free eBooks!

Life in the West of Ireland - By Jack B Yeats

The answer to this over-abundance was to create a list of eBooks, divided into categories, and of interest to anyone researching Irish family history or Irish history generally.  Each title listed has a link to open the book on a PC, tablet or other device.

My site has evolved into three main topics, Irish History, Biography and Genealogy, each of which is sub-divided. History, for example, includes pages on History of Ireland, Church History, Military History, and Local History. The biggest section is Genealogy which covers Irish Pedigrees and Family Histories, Irish American / Canadian / Australian Family Histories, the Diaspora and so on. Altogether there are more than 6,000 titles.

One of my early ‘finds’ was a pedigree of the famous Guinness family, published in 1897, not in Dublin or London as one might expect, but in Christchurch, New Zealand. This shows that the famous brewing family were originally called ‘Magennis’, Arthur Guinness’s father being the one who changed his name and whose grandson, Francis Hart Vicesimus Guinness, became a Resident Magistrate in New Zealand.

Family histories published abroad usually begin with all the information they have on their ancestors in ‘the old country’ handed down from generation to generation. This can often be relevant to descendants still living in Ireland or who moved elsewhere.

The eBooks listed on my site are in the public domain, often over 100 years old. However, Family History Books and Internet Archive - Community Texts, have titles donated by authors or family members and may be right up to date. Books published before 1922 may contain vital research that was done before the catastrophic loss of records in the fire and explosion at the Four Courts in Dublin.

Peter J Clarke Free Irish eBooks

About me

My name is Peter J. Clarke and I was born in Cork City, brought up in Kanturk, Co. Cork and Athy, Co. Kildare. I boarded at Castleknock College, Dublin, in the 1960’s and have lived in Saintfield, Co. Down for nearly 30 years. I am married with 3 grown up children who all live in London. I have a B.Sc. from the Open University and have been interested in genealogy for about 20 years since reading my grandmother’s 1947/8 account of the family’s ancestors.

Further information.

I started Free Irish eBooks in 2011 after reading an article by John Grenham in the Irish Times about doing family history using eBooks. The site has had a combined total of over 1 million page views. The all-time top 10 audience has been: United States, then the U.K. (including N. Ireland), Ireland, Australia, Canada, Germany, Russia, New Zealand, France and Ukraine. The site has associated Facebook, Twitter - @FIGebooks, and Pinterest accounts. The site is free of charge. There is a ‘donate’ button but nobody seems to know how to use it!

Find out more about Peter's work by visiting his site


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.