The National Library of Ireland (NLI) has uploaded 390,000 digital images of baptism and marriage registers to a new website, where they can be accessed free of charge.
Covering more than a thousand Catholic parishes, the scanned microfilm pages reveal details of people living across the entire island between the 1740s and 1880s.
While the material has not yet been transcribed, users can find individuals by selecting a county, parish and then browsing through the scans page-by-page.
Due to the destruction of crucial records during the Irish War of Independence, the registers are considered most important source for tracing ancestors in the country prior to the 1901 Census.
Although indexes to the registers have been created in the past, this is the first time the full records have been published on the web. As a result, researchers can consult the original handwritten entries and be more confident they are getting accurate information.
The NLI holds microfilm copies of over 3500 registers from 1086 parishes
in Ireland and Northern Ireland. The start dates of the registers vary
from the 1740/50s in some city parishes in Dublin, Cork, Galway,
Waterford and Limerick, to the 1780/90s in counties such as Kildare,
Wexford, Waterford and Kilkenny. Registers for parishes along the
western seaboard do not generally begin until the 1850/60s.