The Weakest Link

Searching for the death certificate for your loved one can be a hit and miss affair.  They are the weak link when it comes to records relating to life events.  For civil death records on, they are lagging behind birth and marriage in terms of records that are available online.  Indexes and images between 1864 and 1870 are still not available but the respective Irish Government department responsible for this are working hard to complete the digitisation.

Church burial records are a rare find as most parishes didn’t keep burial registers but you should always check.  The example below is a Church burial record for County Carlow in 1893.  As you can see, it doesn’t give you a lot of information.

So, if you can’t find a civil death record or a church burial record there are two other alternatives but these are not available to everyone; newspaper articles and cemetery records.

There are plenty of occasions where I have found the newspaper death notice or burial record and worked backwards towards the civil death record.  It doesn’t matter what comes first.

Lots of our ancestors were landless labourers so you are not going to find a newspaper death notice, or a headstone or even possibly a burial record.  Even for people who had what I would call ‘means’ in my own family, no headstone exists.  I just think they felt money was best spent elsewhere.

Cemetery records have amazing detail, in most cases, and more and more counties are making their records available online.  In Dublin for example, the Glasnevin Trust has the most comprehensive collection of burial records for Dublin HERE.  For those of you who are not familiar with Glasnevin Cemetery, it has the nickname of ‘The Dead Centre of Dublin’…. That’s Irish humour for you as it’s not actually in the centre of Dublin!  It is said that there are more people buried in Glasnevin Cemetery than are alive in Dublin today so you can imagine the extent of their records which have been going since 1832.

The image above shows the cemetery record for my Great Grandfather in St Fintan’s Cemetry in North County Dublin.  Look at all the information it tells me about him.

St Fintan’s and other cemeteries  in North County Dublin, have been made available online by Fingal County Council HERE and in South Dublin, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council have cemetery records online for Deansgrange and Shanganagh HERE.

Outside Dublin, various County Councils like Clare County Council have digitised some of their records, taken transcriptions of the headstone inscriptions and have images on the headstones. So, always check with the County Council or the County Library websites for the area you are looking for and if you can’t find what you are looking for, there is normally an email address or phone number that you can use to enquire.

Happy hunting


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