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Census Returns

A census of Ireland was taken in 1813 and every 10 years from 1821. However very little has survived of the returns prior to 1901. There are some returns from the census of 1821, 1831, 1841, and 1851, covering parts of the counties of Antrim, Cavan, Cork, Derry, Fermanagh, Galway, Meath, Offaly and Waterford.

There are no enumerators returns from the census of 1861, 1871, 1881, or 1891, these were destroyed by Government order.

Returns for 1926 and subsequent censuses are not open to the public.

The Minister for Heritage has announced on 30th March 2011 that the Government intends to amend legislation to make the 1926 Census of the Irish Free State available.

The appendices to the 55th Report (IV) and the 56th Report (VI) of the Deputy Keeper of Public Records, detail what is available.

Census 28th May 1821

These returns list; names, ages, occupations, and relationships. What has survived and is available for consultation in the National Archives is:

County Cavan : Parishes of Annageliffe, Ballymacue, Castlerahan, Castleterra, Crosserlough, Denn, Drumlummon, Drung and Larah, Kilbride, Kilmore, Kinawley, Lavey, Lurgan and Munsterconaght, Mullagh.

County Fermanagh : Parishes of Derryvullen and Aghalurcher.

County Galway : Baronies of Arran and Athenry. Copies of returns for various families (58th Report, p. 33).

County Louth : A number of extracts for families principally relating to Drogheda (55th Report, p. 110).

County Meath : Baronies of Upper and Lower Navan.

County Offaly : Barony of Ballybritt (including Birr).

County Tipperary : Clonmel heads of households (58th R., p. 44).

Counties Cork, Mayo, Roscommon and Sligo : Copies of returns for various families (58th Report, p. 33).

Census 1831

These returns list; names, ages, religion, occupations and relationships. What has survived and is available for consultation in the National Archives is :

County Derry : Parishes of Agivey, Macosquin, Ballyaghran, Killowen, Aghanloo, Tamlaght, Finlagan, Templemore, Arboe, Termoneeny, Banagher, Glendermot.

Census 6th June 1841

These returns list; names, ages, date of marriage, occupations, relationships and whether each person can read or write.

What has survived and is available for consultation in the National Archives is :

County Cavan : Parish of Killeshandra.

County Fermanagh : Parish of Currin.

County Waterford : Parish of Lismore.

Counties Cavan and Monaghan : Miscellaneous extracts for various names (58th Report, p. 18).

Census 30th March 1851

These returns list; names, ages, date of marriage, religion, occupations, relationships and whether each person can read or write.

What has survived and is available for consultation in the National Archives is :

County Antrim : Parishes of Tickmacrevan, Carncastle, Grange of Killyglen, Kilwaugher, Larne, Craigs (Ahoghill), Ballymoney, Donaghy, Rasharkin, Killead, Aghagallon, Aghalee, Ballinderry.

County Cavan : Miscellaneous extracts for various names (58th Report, p. 18).

County Fermanagh : Parish of Drumheeran.

Counties Cavan and Monaghan : Miscellaneous extracts for various names (58th Report, p. 18).

Census Search Forms

The census search forms or Green Forms were completed by the Public Records Office from information supplied by applicants for the Old Age Pension (which was introduced in 1908) seeking evidence of their age. A person had to be 70 years of age for the pension.

The forms were were drawn up between 1910 and 1922 and were an internal office record of searches made in the census of 1841 and 1851. An applicant provided information by letter and where there were sufficient details a search was carried out. A certified copy of the return was then issued. The documents are arranged by County, Barony, Parish, Townland/Street and name of family searched.

Census 31st March 1901

The complete returns for this census and the census of 1911 have survived for all Ireland and are available for consultation in the National Archives in Dublin. Those for the six counties are in the Public Records Office, Belfast and in other repositories referred to later on microfilm.

If you wish to see the returns for a particular townland or street, you must first establish :

(a) the District Electoral Division number in the Townland Index for 1901 and the supplement for 1911, or the street indexes for Belfast, Cork, Dublin, Kingstown (Dun Laoghaire) and Limerick; and

(b) the townland or street number in the list of census returns for the year and county in question.

The original forms which you will be able to consult are arranged by townlands or, in urban areas by streets and consist of :

Form A filled in by the head of each household (more than likely your great grandparent); and

Forms N, B1, and B2 filled in by the official taking the Census usually a member of the Royal Irish Constabulary summarizing the returns for that townland or street.

Form A (1901 census) contained the following information : Christian name and Surname of the head of the family, his wife, children and other relatives and also the names of visitors, boarders and servants who slept in the house on the night of Sunday 31st March 1901;

Relationship of each person to the head of household i.e. mother, wife, daughter, son, uncle, cousin;

Religious profession of each person;

Whether each person can “read and write”, “can read only” or “cannot read”;

Age in years of each person and in months for infant under one year; Sex of each person;

The rank, profession or occupation of each person i.e. Farmer, Farm servant, Seamstress, Scholar;

Whether each person is “married” “widower”. “widow”, or “not married”; Where each person was born e. g. Co. Donegal;

Irish language knowledge of each person i.e. “Irish”, “Irish & English”; Whether any person is “deaf and dumb”, “dumb only”, blind”, “imbecile”, “idiot”, or “lunatic”.

Some parts of the 1901 census for Leitrim and Roscommon is available on the web

Census 2nd April 1911 Now OnLine at National ArchivesSearch

Form A for the 1911 Census contains all of the above for the night of Sunday the 2nd April 1911 with the following additional information in respect of married women:

Number of completed years of marriage;

Number of children born alive;

Number of children still living;

These questions were added in order to gather information on the fertility of marriages.

These records are an invaluable source for tracing your family tree and there should be no difficulty in getting access very quickly to the records for the townlands and parishes in which you are interested. It can be seen that there is quite an amount of information and one can be reasonably confident of the accuracy of the information that is provided. One word of warning however. Because of the introduction of the old age pension in 1908, older people put on more than the natural ten years between 1901 and 1911 the more common increase to be found is from fifteen to twenty years within that ten years period.

It should now be possible to accurately estimate, dates of birth and marriage. This will assist in searching the civil registers of births, marriages and deaths and the parish registers.

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