Irish history goes digital with new scanning project

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The Irish Times reports that the National Library of Ireland (NLI) has digitised around 400,000 parish records.

The huge collection of Catholic parish register microfilms became available online as of July 8th, giving Irish ancestry a major boost, offering an interesting insight into Ireland’s involvement in the First World War and creating a new perspective of Dublin in the 20th century.

The NLI said that it has taken more than three years to digitise the microfilms – which include records dating from the 1740s to the 1880s, covering over 1,000 parishes across the island. The parish register records are the most important source of information on Irish ancestral history prior to the 1901 census.

The parish registers generally include information such as dates of baptisms and marriages and the names of key people involved, such as witnesses or godparents. Previously, anyone who wanted to view the parish records had to visit the NLI’s genealogy microfilm reading room in Dublin, or pay an outside researcher to access the records for them – with the only online access available to view the documents arriving via a third party subscription service, RootsIreland.ie.

Manager of the digitisation of the parish registers, Ciara Kerrigan, said that it is the most significant genealogy project in the history of the National Library: “The microfilms have been available to be viewed by the public since the 1970s,” she said. “For the first time, anyone who likes will be able to access these registers without having to travel to Dublin.”

This is another brilliant example of the diversity of digitisation!

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