Choosing the best sites for genealogy research in Northern Ireland is tricky because so many websites relevant to research in the Republic of Ireland are equally relevant north of the border.
For clarity's sake, therefore, I chose a handful of databases that specifically target Northern Ireland genealogy research and would suggest that anyone tracing Irish ancestry in the six counties also takes a look at my other lists of (both free and pay-to-view) online resources.
There are links to those lists at the bottom of the page, under the heading Related Pages.
Each of the websites or databases below has earned its place in this short list by offering free access to a good proportion, if not all, of their information.
The sites are listed here in alphabetical order.
Ancestry Ireland is the site of the Ulster
Historical Foundation, one of the major genealogical research agencies, family history publishers and education providers operating in Northern Ireland. The company is based in Belfast.
The organisation specialises in undertaking Irish and Scots-Irish research and runs both study programmes and a membership association called the Ulster Historical and Genealogical Guild.
The Records section of AncestryIreland offers a good number of items of genealogical interest. Among these are detailed civil parish maps and lists of townlands per county, a small selection of ebooks, and a searchable database containing birth, marriage and death records, plus gravestone inscriptions, street directories and much more.
The Ulster Historical Foundation also publishes and distributes many books of interest to Irish genealogists and historians. While many relate only to Northern Ireland, some cover the island.
All manner of records can be found within Eddie's Extracts. As its name suggests, it's a collection of records that Eddie (Connolly) has extracted from a number of sources, principally newspapers.
These include notices of births, marriages and deaths; rolls of honour (war dead), court reports, inquests and books. It's particularly strong on Presbyterian records, but really, anyone carrying out genealogy in Northern Ireland ought to take a good look at Eddie's collection. And it's all free, too.
This free site offers databases containing details
of those who signed the Ulster Covenant (1912), records of pre-1840
Freeholders, street directories 1819-1900, Will calenders 1858-1965, and more than 93,000 transcribed wills.
It also provides free online
access to the Revision/Cancelled Books which continued the work of Griffith's
Valuation from the mid 19th century to the 1930s, and an excellent historical maps viewer.
You can also download several very useful guidance leaflets specific to Northern Ireland genealogy and local history research, such as the Church Records leaflet (3) which provides an overview of the microfilms or paper records available at PRONI for each denomination and for which years.
Also at PRONI, but only for personal visitors, are computer terminals that link to the full GRONI database. The latter allows (pay to view) access to both the historical and current birth, marriage and death civil records.
While the business of much of the Ulster Ancestry site is to target potential paying customers, it also has a large and very useful selection of free databases. These include muster rolls (dating back to 1631), local directories, gravestone inscription, clergy lists, some marriage records and a significant number of ship passenger lists.
Fascinating stuff. And the site owner is to be applauded for placing it online for free access.
Although the ebook of the Belfast and Ulster Directory
for 1852 has to be purchased, the more recent edition,
published in 1910, can be searched freely from this page.
A list of 160 towns is linked to individual pages giving brief details of the town (market day, number of inhabitants), information about post office officials and local places of worship (and their clergy), plus a list of adult inhabitants, their occupations and, in some instances, their address.
This directory is unlike most others published before it, which tended to list only gentry, local officials and tradespeople.
Although much of the information about individuals is now freely available on the 1911 census, the different format (plus additional information about the 'social structure' of each community) means this database remains a useful addition to Northern Ireland's genealogy resources.
If you root around the site, you'll find it also has some pedigrees and a good range of 1862 Directories for Ulster and the Republic - and all free.