Tuesday 21 July 2015

IGRS transcribes 1887 RC Census of Ballymena

Click image for larger view of sample
The Irish Genealogical Research Society (IGRS) has completed what is thought to be the first transcription project to result from the online launch of the National Library of Ireland's RC parish registers' database. And it doesn't include any baptisms, marriages or burials!

Instead, it's a census taken in about 1887 by the parish priest in Ballymena (Kirkinriola), Co Antrim. The date is approximate, calculated by looking at the 1901 census for some of the named individuals and seeing how much they had aged in the intervening years.

In addition to noting the names and ages of parishioners and, in most cases, their relationship to their head of household, the priest recorded whether each individual has taken communion or been confirmed and how regularly they attended mass and other holy devotions required of Catholics.

He also made critical notes about the person's lack of faith or non-attendance at church, and other more general comments. So, of the 2,151 entries, it seems Ballymena's Catholics included 13 illegimate individuals, seven sets of twins, a number of converts and people in 'irregular or mixed marriages', a handful of 'very careless' and 'ignorant people', one 'stubborn bad man' and one 'pervert'.

The census images cover some 60-odd register pages and can be freely accessed on the National Library of Ireland's new RC parish registers' site. Members of the IGRS can search the transcribed Index via the Members' Area on the Society's website at IrishAncestors.ie.