Detailed search of 1911 census goes online


A NEW database for Irish genealogy and research was yesterday released online by the National Library of Ireland.

The free searchable version of the April 1911 family census contains information from the 32 counties and is searchable using any combination of name, surname, age, sex and place

It gives access not only to a database of information but to images of the original census forms which would have been handwritten by the head of the household.

The project, which has so far taken three years of work, has information which is much more personal than the online census release by the CSO earlier this year.

In June, the results of every census conducted in Ireland from 1926 to 1991 were made available online to the public for the first time.

It detailed the statistical tables put together by the CSO rather than any of the census forms or identifying information.

The CSO census forms are too modern for details to be released and family forms filled out in the census remain completely confidential until about 100 years afterwards, said National Archives of Ireland special projects co-ordinator Caitríona Crowe.

The 1911 census is available just shy of the usual 100 years.

It was the last census completed until 1926 because of the Civil War and the War of Independence.

Apart from name, sex, gender, town, age, the scanned family census forms contain a wealth of information.

Categories include relation to head of household, religion, occupation, literacy, marital status, county or country of origin, Irish language proficiency, specified illnesses, and child survival information.

From the end of September all of these extra categories will be available as search terms in the database. This means for example researchers will be able to find out how many married Protestant butchers lived in Co Offaly.

The National Archive hopes to get the 1901 census online by late spring 2010, Ms Crowe said. 1911 has been prepared first because the film is better quality than that for 1901.

The new database may allow people to find previously untraced ancestors, according to Ms Crowe because you can search for all residents such as servants and visitors.

For example, the family returns for Viscount Powerscourt at Powerscourt Demesne in Co Wicklow reveals the details of six visitors and four servants.

Some 15 dock labourers staying at a lodge on Patrick Street in Cork city can now also be traced.

It is also possible to find details of people and businesses that occupied every house in a particular town using the house and building return form.

Ms Crowe hopes to expand the project to eventually use Google maps to compare contemporary street maps with what would have been in each building in 1911.

Online test: how the service can work for you

A SEARCH for relatives from April 2nd, 1911 can be found with very little information. A combination of one or more details such as name, surname, age, town, county may be all that is needed.

Looking for information on my ancestors proved fruitful. My maternal grandmother’s maiden name was Dundon and she was from Co Carlow.

A search using these two details uncovered a record of my great-grandfather Edward Dundon in Borris, Co Carlow.

Opening up the scanned image of the census form to reveal the handwriting of my great-grandfather from 1911 was striking.

It revealed that Edward Dundon (27) was a Roman Catholic general practitioner who was born in Co Limerick and was listed as single. Also on the form were his sister Eileen Dundon (38) and their servant 23-year-old Mary Ryan.

My maternal grandfather was an O’Leary from Co Kilkenny. Searching with these details produced a family census for 26 Main Street, Graiguenamanagh.

Thus my great-grandfather John O’Leary (43) was a Catholic baker who could speak Irish and English.

His wife Johanna O’Leary (26) was a shopkeeper. They had been married for three years and had two children, Eliza aged two and Mary aged one. My grandfather was not born yet.

Also living with them were John O’Leary’s single sister Kate (55). It shows that she also worked in the bread and grocery shop, along with two nieces Margaret Dowling (20) and Joan Dowling (16) . There were two 18-year-old domestic servants living in the house.

A search for my paternal side proved more difficult. My great-grandfather’s name was Daniel Carbery and he lived at St John’s, Athy, Co Kildare. A combination of some and all of these terms produced no results.

This is where the other parts of the census proved useful. I searched for the street of St John’s in Co Kildare. This linked to a housing and building returns form which details the occupants and purpose of all buildings in the area. At number nine is a house listed as owned by Daniel Carbery with eight occupants, with seven buildings or outhouses, 12 rooms and eight front windows.

These searches don’t reveal the whole story but a snapshot of information lost through generations. Like that my great grandparents ran a shop together or that my GP great-grandfather had handwriting as hard to read as most doctor’s prescriptions .

To begin a free search go to search GENEVIEVE CARBERY