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Researching Your Family History

Ireland has made significant strides in digitising family history and genealogy resources, making it easier for people to trace their Irish ancestry. Some of the key local and national resources are outlined below.

National Records

Irish Census Records: The National Archives of Ireland has digitised and made available online various census records, particularly those from 1901 and 1911.  The records can be searched by the family name and by townland and the website provides detailed guidelines on how to search the records.  The Central Library, Waterford and Dungarvan Library also hold microfilm copies of the 1901 and 1911 census records.

[ Visit Website ]

Civil Registration Records: Records of births, deaths, and marriages are available through this Irish government website. This includes records from 1845 onwards with the majority being from 1864 onwards.  It is a comprehensive starting point for various Irish ancestry records.
[ Visit Website ]

Church Records: Many Irish church records have been digitised and are now available online via the National Library of Ireland. These amazing Catholic Parish Registers include records of baptisms, marriages, and burials, which can be cross-referenced with other sites for verification.
[ Visit Website ]

Griffith’s Valuation: This is a comprehensive valuation of property in Ireland completed in the mid-19th century and is invaluable for tracing ancestors during that period. It’s available online through various genealogy websites, including “Ask about Ireland”.  [ Visit Website ]

Tithe Applotment Books: These are records from the 1820s and 1830s, listing those who paid tithes to the Church of Ireland. These records, from the National Archives of Ireland, can be useful for tracing ancestors before the Famine.  [ Visit Website ]

PRONI : The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.  This service is the official archive for Northern Ireland and has a range of different archives that are of value to your family or local history research.  [ VISIT WEBSITE ]

Local Records

Burial Records in Waterford:  If they survive, original burial registers are kept by the local registrar/secretary of the parish. For contact details for Roman Catholic parishes in County Waterford please check the website for the Diocese of Waterford and Lismore, and for contact details for the Church of Ireland, please check the website for the United Dioceses of Cashel, Ferns, Ossory, Leighlin, Lismore and Waterford.

  • As mentioned above, many of these Parish Registers are now online via the National Library of Ireland.  [ See Registers ]
  • Waterford Archives also holds some Funeral Books from local undertakers.  [ See Funeral Books ]

Grave Inscriptions Database: There are many burial grounds for which no burial registers survive, many grounds that are closed, or some that are not in the ownership of the local parish. Local community groups and Solas have worked together to clean and record information from headstones in a number of burial grounds throughout the City and County. The information from this work has been collated and is available in a searchable online database at Waterford City and County Library

[ Visit Grave Inscriptions Database ]

Death Register Database: Searchable database of Waterford civil records from 1864 to the early 1900s.  [ Visit Death Register Database ]

Burial Registers: Waterford City and County Archives has digitised the burial registers that survive from the local ‘Sanitary Authorities’. The burial registers have been provided as PDF documents but where there is an index in a register, this can be used to locate specific entries. Maps of each of the burial grounds have also been provided. You can click on each of the maps provided and enlarge them to enable individual plot numbers to be visible on the map.    [ Jump to Burial Registers page ]

Register of Townland names: When searching census records, remember to try different spellings of surnames e.g. Walsh, Welsh, Walch. In some cases, the spelling may be different or the name was not transcribed correctly, which can make the person difficult to locate by searching solely for the name. In these cases you can browse the census forms online by location. In order to do this, you will need to know the townland name and the Electoral Division.  [ Download Database of Standardised Placenames ]

The details on the census forms can also be used to lead to the next research step. The ages given on the census forms are not always accurate but they do give a place to start when searching for birth records. The 1911 census asked how long a couple were married and subtracting this from 1911 provides the year of the marriage and can be used to track down the marriage certificate or marriage record in the parish records.

Church Records:

The Church recorded baptisms, marriages and deaths prior to the introduction of Civil Registration in 1864.Copies of Waterford parish registers for the Catholic Church are held on microfilm and available at the Central Library, Waterford and Dungarvan Library. Appointments for the microfilm service are available by contacting the Central Library or Dungarvan Library. Microfilm sessions are one hour to a maximum of two per day. [ View what microfilm reels are available ]

As mentioned above, these items are now also available online through the National Library of Ireland.

Church of Ireland
The parish records for the Church of Ireland are available from the National Archives of Ireland or the Representative Church Body Library at :

Methodist Church
The parish records for the Methodist Church are held with the Church of Ireland records and for further information see

Presbyterian Church
The records of the Presbyterian Church can be consulted by contacting the Presbyterian Historical Society on their website at

Society of Friends (Quaker)
Transcripts of the Register for the Society of Friends (Quaker) Waterford Monthly Meetings are held at the Central Library, Waterford. The news of births, deaths and marriages among the members were recorded at these Monthly Meetings. The records for the Society of Friends are held on microfilm at the National Library of Ireland or at the Dublin Friends Historical Library, Swanbrook House, Bloomfield Avenue, Donnybrook, Dublin 4.

The records for the Jewish community are held by the Irish Jewish Museum, Walworth Road, Dublin 8.

Court, Gaol and Police Records

Court Records
Under the Petty Sessions (Ireland) Act, 1851, Ireland was divided into Petty Sessions Districts which were overseen by Justices of the Peace. A clerk was appointed to each district to record the cases heard by the Justices of the Peace. The Petty Sessions Courts heard minor criminal cases and also determined whether more serious cases could go forward to the Quarter Sessions or Assizes to be tried. The records of the Petty Sessions Court are held by the National Archives of Ireland.

The records of the Petty Sessions Court for Waterford City 1851-1921 are also available from Central Library, Waterford on microfilm.

Gaol Records
Waterford City Gaol was built in 1727 and located in Ballybricken. The prison was enlarged in the early 1800s and rebuilt in 1861, remaining in use until it closed in 1939. The Waterford Gaol Records Registers are a detailed record of all prisoners committed to Waterford Gaol between 1842-1939. Among the details recorded are the prisoners name; address; next of kin; height; colour of hair; colour of eyes; trade; religion; offence; date of trial; date of committal and date of release.

The Registers for Waterford City Gaol are available on microfilm from Waterford Central Library.

Police Records
The Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) were the police force in Ireland from 1816 until they were disbanded on 31st August 1922. The General Register of RIC men dates from 1816 to 1922 and records details of the men who joined the RIC and the districts that they served in. The Registers are held by the National Archives, UK.

The Registers of Service and Officer’s Registers were microfilmed by the Church of the Latter Day Saints and are available to view at the Central Library in Waterford.

Emigration Records: This section offers an exploration of Waterford emigration from the 1800s onwards.  There were multifaceted reasons behind the mass departures, including economic hardship, famine, and political unrest. Emigration had a  significant impact on the cultural, social, and economic fabric of both Ireland and the host countries, notably the United States, Australia, and Britain.

Trade Directories: Trade Directories set out to record the “principal inhabitants” of a community, particularly those in a trade or profession.

Local Historical Newspapers

Our Library Service maintains several digital editions of local Waterford historical newspapers, as set out below.  This local studies newspaper service is free to all users.

  • Dungarvan Leader
  • Dungarvan Observer
  • Waterford Chronicle
  • Waterford Mail
  • Waterford News

Irish Newspaper Archive
Our library branches offer a subscription to the Irish Newspaper Archive. This is an online digital archive of regional weekly editions including ‘The Munster Express’ and out of print publications such as the ‘Freeman’s Journal’ and ‘The Nation’ dating back as far as 1763. This service requires use of a Library based PC and membership.

Irish Times Digital Archive
Our library branches also offer a subscription to the Irish Times Digital Archive. This is an online subscription service which includes all articles published by the Irish Times from 1859 onwards. It is an invaluable for social research and for gaining a wider historical perspective on local events. This service requires use of a Library based PC and membership.

Vital Information

There are three pieces of information that are vital to locating any information about your Waterford family.

  • The name of the family or individual
  • The townland in which they lived
  • The approximate dates that they lived there

Many Irish genealogical records are organised by townland name, or feature townland names. so without this information it may prove difficult to track down your individual or family.

Staff at the Library Service and at the City and County Archive will make the sources they hold available to researchers and provide any assistance they can, but cannot do the research for you.

Getting help

Waterford City & County Council are unable to provide research services, but the Archivist can assist in pointing researchers in the right direction.   A list of private researchers is also available from the National Archives of Ireland and the National Library of Ireland.

For advice on how to approach your family history research please read our publication below : “Sources for Family History in County Waterford”.


Our Online Resources - What we have for Waterford

The Local Studies service at our Library Service maintain these online resources.

External online resources like Irish Genealogy also have a copy of many of these records and in the case of Births/Marriages/Deaths, in most cases, provide a research copy of the actual register entry.

  • Family History Databases
    • Death Register database transcription of Civil Records from 1864 to the early 1900s [Link -> 55862 records].
    • Trade Directories database containing index of records in trades and professions in the 19th and 20th centuries [Link -> 45258 records].
    • Grave Inscriptions database, year 1700 onwards, containing limited records for 41 burial grounds in Waterford.  [Link -> 5426 records].

Membership of our Library Service grants access at your local library to a range of premium subscription databases such as and

Contact our Archivist