Monday 10 September 2018

Church of Ireland parish registers to be digitised

Absolutely huge news for Irish genealogy! The Minister for Culture, Heritage, and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan TD, has announced a capital grant of up to €100,000 for the digitisation of Church of Ireland Parish Registers under the Cultural Digitisation Scheme. These register records, some dating back to the early 1600s, are held by the Representative Church Body (RCB) Library in Churchtown, Dublin.

The RCB Library holds the Church of Ireland parish registers for baptism, marriage and burial. This collection includes 1,110 sets of parish records, approximately 840 of which contain varying quantities of public records which have not yet been digitised.

Speaking today, Minister Madigan said: “I am delighted to provide funding for the RCB Library’s project to digitise Church of Ireland Parish Registers, as part of the wider cultural Digitisation Scheme.

“This digitisation project will make it possible for people all over the world to access these unique records as they represent an important body of evidence about the Church’s history.

"Digitisation of this type also provides a vital channel to connect with our Diaspora – which is estimated to be up to 70 million people worldwide – and in turn encourages cultural tourism.”

Dr Susan Hood, RCB Librarian and Archivist, said: “The RCB Library is most grateful for this significant commitment to the project to digitize Church of Ireland parish registers. This will enable us to commence the massive task of making these records accessible and discoverable for all, by creating digital surrogates of original records (some of which are the oldest such records on the island of Ireland) and thereby facilitating the long-term preservation of the original.

“It is extremely good news not just for the Library, but the Church at large and indeed the generations of clergy and record keepers who have kept these records safe. With the right imaging equipment and technical support, which this funding will make possible, we will be enabled to begin imaging of collections of parish registers already in the custody of the Library.”

UPDATE, 11 September: Ultimately, the digitised records will be indexed and made available on the state-managed See Church of Ireland press release here.