Contact Us

Forensic Genealogy

Theory & Practice

A new book, co-authored by Michael S. Ramage, JD CG, and Catherine B. W. Desmarais, CG, is now available for pre-order.

     Requires a free login.

We’ve all wished that we could find a hidden attic containing all our great-great-grandparents’ stuff. If only someone had saved some of it. Well, if your great-grandparents were Irish like mine, someone may have saved some of it. That magical ancestral attic goes by the name of The National Archives of Ireland.

National Archives of Ireland sign

The National Archives is on Bishop Street, a fair walk across Dublin from my hotel. I first went with other members of the research group, but the last time I went by myself. Anyone who knows me personally knows that I can hardly find my way around my own house. Let’s just say that our fearless leader, Donna Moughty, kept a watch for my return and was mighty relieved when I made it safely.

One of the many cool things about the National Archives of Ireland is that it doesn’t open until 10AM. I realize that this may be seen as a drawback to some, but I appreciated the time to eat a sit-down breakfast (oh! Those croissants and butter!), organize my materials, and walk leisurely there. When you arrive, you’ll sign in at the desk and find the lockers beyond that in the room on the right. They are the same lovely glass lockers I showed in my post about the National Library. Everything except your laptop, camera, and research materials stays in a locker.

Take the elevators up to the 5th floor. (Before the doors open or close, a protective fatherly Irish voice says, “Please mind the door.” I thought this was so sweet until about the 999th time I heard it in the research room.) When you exit the elevator, the sign above greets you.


Research room, National Archives Ireland

This is the view as you enter the main reading room. The only reading room, actually. (Kristin, is that you at the table? And Bill walking toward you?) It looks like we had the whole place to ourselves that day, but there really were a few other folks there. To the left is a wall with pocket containers holding information, including the slips to request manuscript material. The main desk is just after that. The folks there are friendly and helpful, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. This is where you will submit your reader’s tickets and pick up the documents you order for research.


Microfilm readers at NAI

Ah, now you can see the main desk in the background and the entry doors. This photo was taken from the opposite side of the room as the first photo. As you can see, there was no shortage of microfilm readers that day.


Old record books at NAI

Down at this end of the room were a lot of old books. I wish I had time to explore them all further. These were labeled “Prison Correspondence.” Someone’s family’s genealogical treasures are hidden in there.


Genealogy Service

There is a professional genealogist on duty daily from 10AM until 1:30PM. This consultation service is free of charge, just like at the National Library. Here’s another idea I’d love the U.S. to import.


NAI reading room, shelves with book pillows

Moving back down to the end of the reading room where you first enter, there is a reference area. Yes, those are pillows you see on top of all the book shelves. No, they do not allow naps. When you remove a book from the shelf, you lay it on a pillow before opening it. This cradles and protects the spine of the book.

See that door in the back right corner of this photograph? That’s the room where you go to have a photocopy made of a document.  When I was there a few months ago I think the price was 20 Euro cents per copy. For 2013, the rates increased to 50 cents/copy. You purchase a copy card with a minimum of 2 Euros on it, and refill as needed. Microfilm is also located in this room. You may sign out one film at a time.


Administration books

In this area of the reading room you will also find the Will and Administration Indexes, among other books and finding aids. Before you get too excited, remember that the pre-1922 wills and administrations themselves did not survive the Four Courts Fire. We make do with the indexes. Researching Irish genealogy is a lesson in gratitude.


And am I ever grateful that the National Archives preserved so many documents. In the U.S., our National Archives preserves important documents produced by our government. The definition is a bit more broad in Ireland, and includes private and local records.  NAI, thank you for preserving some landlord estate records for me.  I am just drooling looking at the box in this photo. I want to go back and spend some more time with this box.


Reading room sign

Hope you enjoyed this tour of the National Archives of Ireland!