Each parish in Ireland kept its own records. Because the Church of Ireland was the state or established church, these parish records were considered state records and each parish held its own registers. This changed in 1876 when a law was passed requiring that Church of Ireland parish registers be sent to the Public Record Office in Dublin for safekeeping. However this law was amended in 1878 to allow parishes to keep their own record if they had good storage facilities. Records that were sent to Dublin were destroyed in 1922 when the Public Record Office was destroyed.
Not all parish records were sent to the Public Record Office and some churches made copies before sending them in. So some Church of Ireland records remain.
In 1905 The Parish Register Society of Dublin begins the printed publication of Church of Ireland parish registers. They completed twelve before the project was abandoned in 1922. The committee included H. Fitzpatrick Berry (Athlone Pursuivant), James Mills (Deputy keeper of the Records), Henry Seymour Guinness and Herbert Wood. They explain the task they set themselves.
“To the genealogist, above all, the preservation of our Parish Registers is of supreme importance, and next to then preservation, any means which will render them more accessible to the public is of immense benefit to him, as it renders his task much less laborious. In many cases the difficulty of obtaining access to these documents, and, where no such difficulty arises, the cost of a prolonged search through the Registers, are sufficient to prevent him completing that chain of evidence which is so necessary to the genealogist. It was to assist this class in overcoming such difficulties that the Parish Register Society of Dublin has been formed.
Its object is to print the earliest Parish Registers, more especially those of Dublin, and. as some of them are already deposited in the Public Record Office and are accessible to all, the Society has decided to give precedence to those Registers which still remain in the custody of the respective incumbents.
By the Act of 1875, it was enacted that all the Parish Registers of the late Established Church of Ireland should be deposited in the Public Record Office under the control of the Master of the Rolls, but as considerable opposition was shewn to such a law, the act of the following year was passed, by which those incumbents who provide a proper safe are allowed to retain possession of their registers.
The Registers of the City of Dublin, besides containing the descent of many old city families, are of great importance to all investigating the history of scattered branches of English families, and the origins of American and Colonial Settlers. During the unsettled times of the 17th century, numerous cadets of old English houses came to Ireland, and many of these resided, at least temporarily, in Dublin.
The works printed by the Society are issued to subscribers only. They are printed on hand made paper, and the issue is strictly limited. As the existence of the Society is dependent on the support accorded to it by the public, it is hoped that members will try to induce those of their friends who are interested in genealogical studies to join the Society. “Member's subscription is one guinea yearly.”
The work of the Parish Register Society was taken over in 1920, by the Association for the Preservation of the Memorials of the Dead in Ireland which published extracts from parish registers in its Journal until 1934.
Most of these registers are available in book format from the RCB Library or CD from Eneclann and today FindmyPast have put the following online: -
Vol 1 -The Registers of St. John the Evangelist 1619-1699, published in 1906 by Alexander Thom & Co.
Vol 2 - The Registers of St. Patrick 1677-1800, published in 1907 by Alexander Thom & Co.
Vol 3 & 7 - The Registers of the Church of St. Michan 1636-1700, published in 1909 by Alexander Thom & Co.
Vol 5 -The Registers of St. Catherine 1636-1715, published in 1908 by William Pollard & Co. Ltd.
Vol 9 - The Register of the Parish of Saint Peter and Saint Kevin 1669-1761, published in 1911 by William Pollard & Co. Ltd.
Vol 10 - The Register of St. Nicholas Without 1694-1739, published 1912 by William Pollard & Co. Ltd.
Vol 11 - Marriage Entries from the Registers of the Parishes St. Andrew, St. Anne, St. Audoen, & St. Bride 1632-1800, published in 1913 by William Pollard & Co. Ltd.
Vol 12 - Marriage Entries in the Registers of the Parishes of S. Marie, S. Luke, S. Catherine and S. Werburgh 1627-1800, published in 1915 by William Pollard and Co. Ltd. Marriage entries span the following years: St. Marie (1697-1800), St. Luke (1716-1800), St. Catherine (1715-1800), and St. Werburgh (1704-1800).