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1901 and 1911 census records for Ireland are now online

The final 1911 returns went online in December 2009. All 1901 census records went online in June 2010


Brick tenements in Dublin
Brick tenements in Dublin

Ireland's census records have always presented family history reseachers with one major problem: the lack of a name index. So the best Irish genealogy news in years came in 2005 with the announcement of a collaboration between the National Archives in Dublin (NAI) and Library & Archives Canada to digitise, index and publish online both the 1901 and 1911 census.

The lengthy process of digitising the census records was completed on 2nd June 2010 when the 1901 returns were uploaded to join the 1911 returns on the website of the National Archives of Ireland.

The website (see link at foot of page) provides free access to an extensive search facility and images, to people of Irish descent both in Ireland and abroad.

A brief resume of the project releases

On 22 December 2008 the National Archives of Ireland released the 1911 census online (plus historical photos and essays) for counties Antrim, Down and Kerry. Although at least six months later than scheduled, this tranche of online returns was warmly welcomed. It came one year after the first returns, for Dublin, went online.

Toolkit top tip

Save your printing ink! Don't print off the census images from the National Archives site. Instead, print off some blank census forms (they use a lot less ink) and transcribe your ancestor's details direct from your screen.

You can download/print free blank census forms here:

1901 census form A or 1911 census form A

With the December 2008 releases, the NAI confirmed their commitment to completing the project in 2009. Researchers were advised that the 1911 records were to be placed online in three tranches before the end of summer while the returns for 1901 census were expected to be placed online in one fell swoop at the end of 2009. As with the Dublin, Antriim, Down and Kerry 1911 releases, contextual material were to accompany the releases of some of the major urban population bases such as Cork.

On 29 July 2009 the National Archives of Ireland announced that the second of this year's tranches of releases (due 'mid-July') was delayed for over one month in order to achieve the required level of accuracy. The revised date of release was 'late August'. The date for the third tranche of releases was also knocked on by one month to 'late September'.

On 28 August 2009 family historians all over the world were taken by
surprise when the National Archives of Ireland released census records for
all the remaining counties.

On 29 December 2009 a redeveloped site went live to allow new search options for all 1911 census records including: Relation to Head of Household, Literacy, Occuptation, Marital Status, County/Country of Origin, Language Proficiency, Specified Illnesses, Number of Years Married, Number of Children Born, and Number of Children Living. In addition, it was announced that the 1901 census records, with all data transcribed, will be launched between early and mid 2010.

On 11 March 2010, at a seminar in Dublin, the NAI's project leader advised that the 1901 census was not immediately imminent but would be online by the middle of June. Unlike the 1911 release, the 1901 records for all 32 counties will be released in one fell swoop. However, due to staff shortages at the National Archives, transcriptions and digitised images will not have been thoroughly checked before release.

On 17 May 2010 a date was announced for the online release of the I901 returns: Thursday 3rd June.

On 2 June 2010, one day earlier than advertised, the 1901 census of Ireland was released online.

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