Irish Roots

Lovely, Gnarly Nitty-Gritty Dublin Records


For anyone interested in researching Dublin ancestors, Dublin City Library and Archive has long been a logical starting-point. Their digital version of the city voters’ lists between 1938 and 1964, four million imaged, searchable and browseable records, has been a staple of research since it was first unveiled in the Pearse St Reading Room in 2006. One of the very few truly sequential Irish sources, it allows researchers to follow any family year- by-year through the streets of the capital over three decades – especially useful for adoptees trying to trace birth families.

Since 2006, a series of smaller (but still very useful) digitised material has also appeared in the Reading Room and on a directory of Dublin graveyards, 14,000 transcripts of commemorative plaques around the city, ancient freemen and early municipal electors.

All of these, including the giant collection of 20th-century electoral records, have now been brought together and made searchable online from a single starting point, (Full disclosure: I was involved in coding the new site.)

Apart from the existing material, there is plenty new: complete burial registers for three Dublin City Council cemeteries, Clontarf, Drimnagh and Finglas; a composite directory of the city between 1647 and 1706, put together from four separate sources; and a now-complete run of municipal electoral lists between 1908 and 1915, adding almost 150,000 new records.

The addition of the electors’ lists covering 1913 and 1914 is especially welcome. DCLA doesn’t have these years, and the National Archives very generously gave them copies to fill the gap, a wonderful example of joined-up, public service collaboration. They are the working records used by the courts for voter registration, and are very different to the official lists already online, full of scribbled crossings-out, marginalia, objections – lovely, gnarly nitty-gritty stuff. My only complaint is that DCLA hasn’t made enough fuss about the new site. There should be marching bands, fire-eaters, dancing in the streets.