We’ve just seen the first fruits of a project from the National Archives of Ireland
and Library and Archives Canada
to digitize, index and post online the 1901 and 1911 Irish censuses.
You now can search or browse Dublin’s 1911 census records free at www.census.nationalarchives.ie
; the rest of the 1911 and then 1901 records will follow.
Search on a name or place, then and click on a match to see a page with the household's residents and links to PDF images of the dwelling’s census return forms (they were a bit slow to load).
What an exciting development, and not only because contributing editor Sharon DeBartolo Carmack tipped us off just in time to slip the good news into our March 2008 Irish research guide before the issue went to press.
The project is creating the only master index to Irish census records—currently, you have to look up the district electoral division (DED) for your ancestor's townland (similar to a neighborhood) and residence, then find the Family History Library
census microfilm covering the right DED.
On your relative’s Household Return (Form A) for 1901, you’ll find his or her name, age, sex, relationship to the head of household, religion, occupation, marital status, county or country of birth, and ability to read, write and speak Irish.
All of that’s also in the 1911 census, plus, for married women, the numbers of years of marriage, children born alive and children still living.
You can get a good picture of your family’s economic status, too: On the House and Building Return (Form B), census takers recorded details about dwellings, such as number of windows, type of roof, number of rooms a family occupies, and overall condition.
Though Ireland took censuses every 10 years starting in 1821, the infamous 1922 Four Courts fire took a toll, as did government officials who destroyed old returns once they gathered statistical information. The 1921 count was skipped due to the Irish Civil War, leaving 1901 and 1911 as the only censuses available.