Hamilton County Genealogical Society
P.O. Box 15865
Cincinnati, Ohio 45215-0865
Telephone:  (513) 956-7078

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A chapter of the
Ohio Genealogical Society

Irish Interest Group

 
Records and Resources for Irish in Hamilton County
 
Irish Immigration to Hamilton County
 
Irish immigrants were among the first settlers in southwest Ohio, and they continued to arrive, in large numbers, during three distinct waves of Irish immigration to North America.
 
The penal laws in Ireland spurred the initial wave of Irish emigration, from the 1720s to 1845. Beginning in the late 17th century, these laws restricted the rights and livelihood of any Irish person who was not a member of the Church of Ireland. Roman Catholics tended to stay in place where they subsisted on small tenancies. Most emigrants during this period were Ulster dissenters, mainly Presbyterians. In America, they settled in the Mid-Atlantic and as the western frontier opened, some moved across the Appalachian Mountains to Ohio.
 
The Great Famine (1846-1855) destroyed the main food crop of the Irish people, and about one million escaped to the United States. A small number received passage paid by landlords who found it more expedient to pay the fares than support the poor in Irish workhouses. Most Irish emigrants raised the money for passage from family, neighbors, or charities. The influx of Famine-era Irish immigrants to Cincinnati is reflected in the establishment of Irish Catholic churches in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati – eight new churches between 1845 and 1861 (see the list of Irish Catholic parishes below).
 
In the post-Famine period, emigration from Ireland to America ebbed and flowed based on economic conditions, job opportunities, world conflicts, and civil wars in Ireland and the United States. Generations of Irish Americans contributed to chain migration by funding the passages of family and friends from Ireland.
 
Irish Research in Cincinnati and Hamilton County
 
Begin a search for an Irish ancestor using the Hamilton County records and resources available to anyone with ancestors who migrated through or settled in Cincinnati. There are many “How to” articles and links to finding and using local records on this website. Several books significant for Hamilton County Irish ancestors are available on the HCGS Shop and Support page.
  • Hamilton County, Ohio Burial Records, Volume 19, Old St. Joseph German Cemetery 1845- 1879, (this cemetery has an Irish section) and Volume 18, New St. Joseph Irish Cemetery 1850-1894, both by Jeffrey G. Herbert.
  • A series of books, Hamilton County, Ohio Roman Catholic Baptism Records, by Jeffrey G. Herbert.
Irish churches in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, 1818-1874
Copies of baptism, marriage, and burial records from parishes in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati can be obtained for a fee from the Archdiocese Archives. Digitized images are also available on the subscription website Findmypast.
 
Year organized
Name of church
Location
Baptism records begn
Marriage records begin
Burial records begin
1818
Christ Church (St. Peter in Chains)
8th and Plum
1839
1839
1839
1845
St. Francis Xavier
Sycamore St.
1845
1846
1891
1845
All Saints (closed)
E. 3rd St.
1850
1851
1926
1850
St. Patrick (closed)
3rd and Mill
1850
1851
none
1853
St. Patrick (closed)
Northside
1853
1854
1922
1854
St. Thomas (closed)
5th and Sycamore
1853
1853
none
1857
St. Gabriel
Glendale, OH
1862
1862
1873
1859
Holy Angels (closed)
Grandin Rd.
1859
1860
1885
1861
St. Vincent de Paul
Sedamsville
1862
1863
1862
1864
St. Edward (closed)
Clark and Mound
1864
1864
1918
1873
Holy Cross (closed)
Mt. Adams
1873
1873
1873
1874
St. Andrew
Avondale
1875
1878
1879
1874
Blessed Sacrament (closed)
Lower Price Hill
1874
1875
1912
 
Book, articles, and websites of interest to Hamilton County Irish researchers
  • Cassidy, Martin. “Finding Irish Folk in St. Joseph New Cemetery,” The Tracer Jun 2016
  • Cyprych, Deb. “Irish Catholic Records: Indexed at Last!” The Tracer Jun 2016
  • Endres, David J., Ph.D. “Researching the Catholic Pioneers of Cincinnati,” The Tracer Dec 2017
  • Endres, David J., Ph.D. “Tracing Your Cincinnati Catholic Ancestors,” The Tracer Dec 2015
  • Faloon, Mary Ann. “1901 and 1911 Censuses of Ireland,” The Tracer Aug 2010
  • Faloon, Mary Ann. “An Irish Rose by Any Other Name – Celtic and Gaelic Names,” The Tracer Sep 2012
  • Fortin, Roger. Faith and Action: A History of the Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati, 1821 – 1996 (Columbus: The Ohio State University Press, 2002)
  • Fortin, Roger. Fellowship: History of the Cincinnati Irish (Cincinnati: Cincinnati Book Publishing, 2018)
  • Grace, Kevin. Irish Cincinnati (Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 2012)
  • The Irish Heritage Center of Cincinnati https://www.irishcenterofcincinnati.com/
  • The Irish in Cincinnati – the history and living heritage of Irish in the city https://libapps.libraries.uc.edu/exhibits/irish-cincinnati/timeline/
  • McNabb, Leeann. “Irish Census Substitutes,” The Tracer Dec 2013
  • Muccino, Eileen. “The Fenian Brotherhood in Cincinnati, 1855 – 1870,” The Tracer Jun 2016
  • Muccino, Eileen. “Successful Bridgets: Irish Women in Cincinnati’s 3rd Ward,” The Tracer Nov 2011 and Mar 2012
  • Nathan, Jean. “Irish Churches in Cincinnati,” The Tracer Jun 2016
  • Phillips, Colleen. “Irish Genealogical Research,” The Tracer Mar 2015
 
Researching the Records of Ireland Online
 
It is critical to research Irish ancestors thoroughly in the United States before looking for records in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Every detail about the immigrant, the family, and relationships with neighbors helps narrow the search in Ireland. Uncovering the name of an ancestor’s townland is vital because many Irish surnames were popular throughout Ireland. A complete index of Irish townlands with their counties, baronies, electoral divisions, and civil parishes is found at Irish Townlands. For information on the complex hierarchy of records administration see Government and Geographical Boundaries of Ireland.
 
Irish Gaelic surname variants are common (many records were written by those who did not speak the Irish language). Given names were repeated and children were often named after deceased siblings. Individuals rarely moved far from their places of birth, so it is common to find repeated given and surname combinations in a region. Ages and birth dates in Irish records should be treated with skepticism since most Irish did not know their dates of birth. The date of a Roman Catholic baptism, usually within several days of birth, is the best indicator of an ancestor’s age.
 
Note on the destruction of Ireland’s genealogical records
In 1922, an explosion and fire at Four Courts, the home of the Public Record Office in Dublin, destroyed centuries of Irish records. The 1821-1851 Irish censuses, two thirds of the Church of Ireland parish registers, and many wills and probate records were lost. The 1861-1891 Ireland census records had previously been destroyed: the censuses of 1861 and 1871 were destroyed by the government once officials extracted useful information and the 1881 and 1891 censuses were pulped because of a paper shortage during World War I.
 
Civil Registration Records
 
In 1844, the Marriages (Ireland) Act led to the creation of the Office of Registrar General, which began recording all non-Roman Catholic marriages. In 1863, the Registration of Births and Deaths (Ireland) Act created the first civil register of births and deaths in Ireland. At the same time Catholic marriages were added to the record requirements. Births and deaths had to be reported by the public (or significant fines were levied), and marriages were registered by the officiants.
 
Free copies of the images for all counties are searchable at Irish Genealogy. The records are available for births from 1864 to 100 years ago, marriages from 1845 to 75 years ago (Catholic marriages from 1864), and deaths from 1878 to 50 years ago.
 
The indexes are also searchable in Ireland Civil Registration Indexes, 1845-1958, on FamilySearch, but there are no images. This record set does not include civil registrations for Northern Ireland from 1922 forward. Beginning in 1922, registrations for the six counties of Northern Ireland were made at the General Register Office of Northern Ireland (GRONI), which offers free searches but requires a fee to view the image online. Pre-1922 records for Northern Ireland are free (along with the images from the Republic of Ireland) at Irish Genealogy.
 
Ireland Church Records
 
The Anglican Church and the Roman Catholic Church were the two largest Christian denominations in Ireland, beginning in the 16th century. The Anglican Church was established as the Church of Ireland in 1560, following the Protestant Reformation.
 
The Church of Ireland (Anglican) was the state church until 1869, and its parishes became the structure for Ireland’s secular records–the civil parishes. Church of Ireland records, which include burials, marriages, and christenings, exist from the 1600s but most date from the late 17th century. Unfortunately, about two thirds of the Church of Ireland records were destroyed in the 1922 Public Record Office fire. The records that still exist are from parishes that had the necessary safeguards that allowed them to maintain the records instead of sending them to Dublin. The Representative Church Body Library of the Church of Ireland has a list of all parish registers, the status of each, and their locations if they survived the fire.
 
The Roman Catholic Church records were maintained by the Catholic parishes which, unlike civil jurisdictions, changed boundaries over time. The Roman Catholic parishes were also larger, making them more difficult to search. Some carry the same name as a civil parish but may not have the same boundaries.
 
Catholic church records, mainly baptisms and marriages, typically begin around 1820. Dates vary widely with some records beginning as early as the late 1700s and others not until the 1870s. The digitized images of the records of most parishes are available at the National Library of Ireland. There are no indexes on the library website, but indexes are available at Ancestry and Findmypast (subscription sites), and both sites link to the images at the National Library of Ireland.
 
One option to find the Roman Catholic parish for an ancestor is Irish Ancestors. On the sitemap is a clickable “RC Parish Map,” one of the free browse sections on this subscription website.
 
Transcriptions of some Roman Catholic parish records can also be found on two other websites, the National Library of Ireland and the Irish Family History Foundation (subscription site).
 
The Presbyterian Church in Ireland was established by Scots who settled in Ulster. While there are some earlier church registers, most begin when the Presbyterian Church first required record keeping in 1819. The only online access to significant records of the Presbyterian Church is to transcriptions available at the subscription site Irish Family History Foundation.
 
Ireland Census Records
 
Full censuses were taken in Ireland every ten years between 1821 and 1911, but only 1901 and 1911 still exist intact. The next census for Ireland was taken in 1926 and will likely be released to the public in 2027.
 
Census year
What happened to the records?
Online access to Ireland census records
1821
Destroyed in 1922 fire at the Public Records Office in Dublin
Fragments microfilmed by LDS. Images at Findmypast.
1831
Destroyed in 1922 fire at the Public Records Office in Dublin
Fragments microfilmed by LDS. Images at Findmypast.
1841
Destroyed in 1922 fire at the Public Records Office in Dublin
Images for only one parish in County Cavan survive on microfilm at LDS. A few abstracts for portions of two parishes in County Kilkenny are at Ancestry.
1851
Destroyed in 1922 fire at the Public Records Office in Dublin
Fragments microfilmed by LDS. Searchable abstracts at Ancestry. Images at FindMyPast.
1861
Destroyed by government prior to 1922
                               
1871
Destroyed by government prior to 1922
 
1881
Destroyed by government prior to 1922
 
1891
Destroyed by government prior to 1922
 
1901
At National Archives of Ireland
For flexible search options and images, search at the National Archives of Ireland. Free to search on Ancestry and Findmypast, no images.
1911
At National Archives of Ireland
For flexible search options and images, search at the National Archives of Ireland. Free to search on Ancestry and Findmypast, no images.
 
Ireland Property Records
 
Griffith’s Primary Valuation of Ireland is one of the few complete collections of Irish genealogical records. It is one of the best online sources of information about 19th-century Irish immigrants. The work of the Valuation Office was to record who owned and occupied the land and what wealth could be extracted in the form of taxes. The records include three separate sets:
  • Valuation Office Surveys, 1830-1865, drew boundaries, surveyed the property, and placed taxable values on all land and houses. Useful records for genealogists include the House Books from 1833 to the mid-1850s. They record the dimensions of properties, identify houses and other buildings, and list the names of occupiers. Search the House Books at the National Archives of Ireland  or Findmypast. Tenure Books (1846-1858) were produced to provide descriptions of tenements and their value. While many tenements were leased “at will,” other types of leases may include the year the lease began and persons named in the lease. Learn more about the Tenure Books at the National Archives of Ireland.
  • Griffith’s Valuation (named for the Valuation Office manager Richard Griffith), 1847-1864, includes the names of every landlord and tenant with their holdings and the assessed property tax. Griffith’s Valuation covers 100 percent of the Irish countryside and about 70 percent of city property. This is the only major surviving record set showing where people lived before and during the Great Famine.
The information in Griffith’s Valuation includes lot number; name of townland and occupiers; name of lessor; what is included on the property (house, garden, mill, etc.); area in acres, rods, and perches; rate charged for land; rate charged for buildings; and total tax.
 
The images from Griffith’s Valuation are available on the paid sites Ancestry and Findmypast. The records and detailed maps are searchable for free at Ask about Ireland.
  • Cancelled (Revision) Books are the working records of the Valuation Office and were revised every year (at longer intervals in rural areas) into the 1980s (when the rate tax was abolished on non-commercial property). The staff recorded changes in ownership using different colored ink each year. As new books were needed, the old ones were “cancelled” and stored. The Revision Books for the Republic of Ireland are held at the Valuation Office in Dublin. A project to digitize them is underway. The records for Northern Ireland are at the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI). Valuation revision books through 1935 can be viewed and images downloaded at PRONI. The books have not been indexed.
Estate Records are another source of landholder records. After the Great Famine, many of the large Irish estates were bankrupt, and an 1849 Act of Parliament established the Encumbered (Landed) Estates Court to sell insolvent properties. The records include the names of lease holders and payments. These records have been digitized and are available on Findmypast.
 
Another useful site for finding estate records is the Landed Estates Database. It covers only Connaught and Munster in the west of the Republic. The database can be searched by the name of the estate, the name of the family, or the name of the individual house. For each estate, sources are included about the type of information that can be accessed and where to find it. If the actual estate records still exist, they can be found in the Landed Estates Database.
 
Tithe Applotment Books, 1823-1837, are useful because they serve as a type of census from the pre-Famine period. This unique land survey in Ireland was completed to determine the taxes owed to the Church of Ireland. The records contain names of townlands and landholders. The indexes are available on Ancestry. Indexes and images can be searched at the National Archives of Ireland.
 
Immigration Records
There are no centralized records in Ireland of emigration to the United States. Passenger lists, required after 1820, were deposited in the US ports. Surviving lists are on microfilm at FamilySearch and have been digitized and indexed on Ancestry. There are links on Irish Ancestors to published online lists (Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild) and to printed sources for Irish passenger lists.
 
Popular Irish Genealogy Resources
 
Books
  • Grenham, John. Tracing Your Irish Ancestors, 5th Edition (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan, 2018)
  • McGee, Frances. The Archives of the Valuation Office of Ireland, 1830-1865, (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2018)
  • Mitchell, Brian. A New Genealogical Atlas of Ireland, 2nd Edition (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 2017)
  • Paton, Chris. Tracing Your Irish Family History on the Internet: A Guide for Family Historians, 2nd Edition (Pen and Sword Family History, 2019)
  • Reilly, James R. Richard Griffith and His Valuations of Ireland (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 2000)
  • Roulston, William J. Researching Scots-Irish Ancestors: The Essential Genealogical Guide to Early Modern Ulster, 1600-1800, 2nd Edition (Belfast: Ulster Historical Foundation, 2018)
  • Santry, Claire. The Family Tree Irish Genealogy Guide: How to Trace Your Ancestors in Ireland (Family Tree Books, 2017)
Articles and Journals
Blogs
  • Irish Genealogy News https://www.irishgenealogynews.com/. Claire Santry, author of The Family Tree Irish Genealogy Guide, posts daily. She discusses new record sets and what is in the pipeline, problems in researching records and potential solutions, the best free websites, and upcoming events in Ireland.
  • John Grenham – Irish Roots https://www.johngrenham.com/blog/. John Grenham, author of Tracing Your Irish Ancestors, provides updates on Irish records, including changes to his own website (part free, part subscription).
  • Irish Family Roots https://www.irishfamilyroots.com/blog. Donna Moughty writes about the best Irish record sets available. She discusses the records at each repository, how to search the records online, and how to get the most out of a record search.
 
Content created by Eileen Muccino and Mary Ann Faloon
October 2020