By Kimberly Powell
Updated February 09, 2016.Cemeteries in Ireland are not only beautiful, but also a potential source of information on Irish family history. Headstones are a source of not only dates of birth and death, but possibly maiden names, occupation, military service or fraternal association. Sometimes members of the extended family may be buried nearby. Tiny grave markers can tell the story of children who died in infancy for whom no other records exist. Flowers left on a grave may even possibly lead you to living descendants!
When researching Irish cemeteries and the people buried in them, there are two major types of records that can often be helpful—headstone transcriptions and burial registers.
- Headstone transcriptions, and sometimes accompanying photographs, capture the information recorded on the individual grave markers. Transcriptions only reflect the information that was still legible at the time the transcription was made, however, and may not reflect gravestone engravings that have worn away with time, or headstones that have been lost or damaged. It is also possible that a grave marker was never erected, either due to finances or lack of surviving relatives in the area.
- Burial registers, maintained by the individual cemetery, church, or city or county council, may include additional information such as the last residence of the deceased, who paid for the burial, and the names of other individuals buried in the grave. Because these records were made at the time of burial, they often include individuals for whom grave markers may no longer exist.
Ornate tombstones at Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin, Ireland. Getty / Design Pics / Patrick Swan1. Glasnevin Trust - Burial RecordsThe website of Glasnevin Trust of Dublin, Ireland, boasts about 1.5 million burial records dating from 1828. Basic search is free, but access to the online burial registers and book extracts, and additional features such as "extended burials by grave search" (includes all others in same grave) is by pay-per-view search credits. Glasnevin Trust records cover Glasnevin, Dardistown, Newlands Cross, Palmerstown and Goldenbridge (managed by Glasnevin office) cemeteries, as well as Glasnevin and Newlands Cross crematoria. Use the "Advanced Search" feature to search with date ranges and wildcards. More »
Ruins of Ballinskelligs Priory and Cemetery, Ballinskelligs, Ireland. Getty / Peter Unger2. Kerry Local Authorities - Graveyard RecordsThis free website offers access to burial records from 140 cemeteries in County Kerry controlled by Kerry Local Authorities. Access is available to over 168 scanned books; 70,000 of these burial records have also been indexed. The majority of the burial records are from the 1900s to present. The old cemetery at Ballenskelligs Abbey is too old to be included on this site, but you can find more recent burials in the nearby Glen and Kinard cemeteries. More »
Greyabbey Cemetery, County Down, Ireland. Getty / Design Pics / SICI3. History from Headstones: Cemeteries of Northern IrelandSearch the largest collection of online cemetery transcriptions in Northern Ireland in this database of over 50,000 gravestone inscriptions from over 800 graveyards in counties Antrim, Armagh, Down, Fermanagh, Londonderry and Tyrone. Pay-per-view credits or Guild membership with the Ulster Historical Foundation are required to view anything beyond the basic search results. More »
View of Limerick city over St Mary's Cathedral and River Shannon, County Limerick, Ireland. Getty / Credit: Design Pics / The Irish Image Collection4. Limerick Archives: Cemetery Records and Burial RegistersSearch through 70,000 burial recordsfrom Mount Saint Lawrence, Ireland's fifth largest cemetery. The Mount Saint Lawrence burial records date between 1855 and 2008, and include the name, age, address and grave location of those buried in the 164-year-old cemetery. Also helpful is the interactive map of Mount St Lawrence Cemetery showing the exact location of individual burial plots throughout the 18-acre site, and headstone photos and transcriptions for many of the stones. More »
Rathcooney cemetery, Glanmire, Cork, Ireland.Copyright David Hawgood / CC BY-SA 2.05. Cork City and County Archives: Cemetery RecordsOnline records from the Cork City and County Archives include burial registers for St. Joseph's Cemetery, Cork City (1877–1917), Cobh/Queenstown Cemetery Register (1879–1907),Dunbollogue Cemetery Register (1896–1908), Rathcooney Cemetery Records, 1896–1941, and Old Kilcully Burial Registers (1931–1974). Burial records from additional Cork cemeteries can be accessed through their reading room or research service. More »
Workman memorial at the Belfast City Cemetery, Belfast, Ireland. Copyright Rossographer / CC BY-SA 2.06. Belfast City Burial RecordsThe Belfast City Council offers a searchable database of about 360,000 burial records from the Belfast City Cemetery (from 1869), Roselawn Cemetery (from 1954), and Dundonald Cemetery (from 1905). Searches are free and results include (if available) full name of the deceased, age, last place of residence, sex, date of birth, date of burial, cemetery, grave section and number, and type of burial. Grave section/number in the search results are hyperlinked so you can easily view who else is buried in a particular grave. Images of burial records over 75 years old can be accessed for £1.50 each. More »
Clontarf cemetery, also known as St. John the Baptist cemetery, in Dublin. Copyright Jennifer atSidewalkSafari.com7. Dublin City Council: Heritage DatabasesDublin City Council's Library and Archives division hosts a number of free online "heritage databases" which include several cemetery records. Cemetery Burial Registers is a database of individuals buried in three now closed cemeteries (Clontarf, Drimnagh and Finglas) which are now under the control of Dublin City Council. The Dublin Graveyards Directory provides details on all graveyards in the Dublin area (Dublin City, Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown, Fingal and South Dublin), including location, contact information, titles of published gravestone transcripts, links to online gravestone transcripts, and the location of surviving burial records. More »
St. Declan's cemetery, also known as Ardmore cemetery, in County Waterford, Ireland. Getty / De Agostini / W. Buss8. Waterford City and County Council: Burial RecordsThe Waterford Graveyard Inscriptions Database includes headstone information (and sometimes obituaries) for over thirty county cemeteries which have been surveyed, including some for which burial registers no longer exist or cannot be easily accessed. The Burial Records page also provides access to select scanned burial registers for cemeteries under the control of Waterford City Council, including St. Otteran's Burial Ground (also known as Ballinaneeshagh Burial Ground), St. Declan's Burial Ground in Ardmore, St. Carthage's Burial Ground in Lismore, and St. Patrick's Burial Ground in Tramore