A-Z OF IRISH GENEALOGICAL TERMS

Did you know that an Irish mile is 6,720 feet (1,440 feet longer than an English mile)?  ​If you are researching your Irish roots, you will come across certain terms. Most are straightforward, but some require further explanation. 

Title
Description
More Info
Archdiocese
Administrative church area comprising of dioceses. In Ireland today there are 4 Roman Catholic archdioceses.
https://bit.ly/2HpE28p
Barony
A group of civil parishes. Baronies originally related to tuatha, tribal division of old Ireland.
https://bit.ly/2pwwCGK
Census
The first relatively accurate Irish census took place in 1821, and were taken approximately every 10 years until 1946, where they were taken every 5 years. However, apart from a few fragments, nothing remains prior to 1901.
https://bit.ly/3fQf2sU
Church Parish
A group of parishes make up a diocese. In Ireland, Roman Catholic Church records are based on these.
https://bit.ly/2HpE28p
Civil Parish
Consist of a number of townlands, generally map to Church of Ireland Parishes.
https://bit.ly/2pwwCGK
Civil Registration
Civil registration is the system by which a government records the vital events (births, marriages, and deaths) of its citizens and residents. Civil registration in Ireland commenced in 1864, when it became compulsory to register all births, deaths and marriages. Non-Catholic marriages were registered with the civil authorities from 1845.
https://bit.ly/2HmXNxk
Cognomen
Latin for surname (family name)
Congregational Records
Part of Irish parish registers, not belonging with the baptisms, marriages or burials. They feature records relating to other sacraments e.g. Communion, Confirmation, donations, and many other administrative records for the parish.
Consanguinati en tertio grado
Latin for second cousins
Consanguinitas/Con.
Latin meaning blood relationship (usually found on parish marriage records).
County
There are 32 counties in Ireland.
https://bit.ly/2HsI9wh
Diocese
Administrative church area controlled by a bishop. In Ireland today there are 22 Roman Catholic dioceses.
https://bit.ly/2HpE28p
Down Survey
Taken in the years 1656-1658 by William Petty, the Down Survey of Ireland is the first ever detailed land survey on a national scale anywhere in the world.
http://bit.ly/2LERgzn
English Mile
5,280 feet, this dates back to the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1 in the 16th century.
http://bit.ly/2LLLGuS
Fenian
Political movement in the mid-nineteenth century in favour of an independent Ireland. Its name comes from the mythological Fianna army of Fionn MacCumhail.
http://bit.ly/2wfoizh
Filia
Latin for daughter
Filius
Latin for son
Frater/Fratris
Latin for brother
GRO
The General Register Office (Oifig An Ard-Chláraitheora) is the central civil repository for records relating to births, stillbirths, deaths, marriages, civil partnerships and adoptions in Ireland.
https://bit.ly/2HmXNxk
Gazetteer
A book that alphabetically names and describes places e.g. Lewis Topographical Dictionary of Ireland.
https://bit.ly/2Jie9U8
Glebe
Any house, with the piece or parcel of land attached thereto, occupied or to be occupied by any ecclesiastical person while having spiritual charge of any parish or district.
http://bit.ly/2PlM6bg
Griffith's Primary Valuation
The valuation was undertaken by Sir Richard Griffith to ascertain the monetary value of all landholdings and buildings in the country for tax purpose.
https://bit.ly/3X0Z2Wb
IRB
Irish Republican Brotherhood - was a secret oath-bound fraternal organisation dedicated to the establishment of an "independent democratic republic" in Ireland between 1858 and 1924.
http://bit.ly/2JV65sT
Irish Mile
6,720 feet (1,440 feet longer than an English mile).
http://bit.ly/2LLLGuS
Landed Gentry
Historical British social class consisting of landowners who could live entirely from rental income, or at least had a country estate. It was distinct from, and socially "below", the aristocracy or peerage.
Mater/Matris
Latin for mother
Mense
Latin for month
NAI
The National Archives was established on 1 June 1988 under the National Archives Act. Under this legislation, when records of Government Departments and their agencies are thirty years old, they are transferred to the Archives. It took over the functions previously performed by the State Paper Office (1702) and the Public Record Office of Ireland (1867).
https://bit.ly/3TpiWaf
NLI
The National Library of Ireland is located on Kildare Street beside Leinster House. The Library has a dedicated staffed Genealogy Room.
http://bit.ly/2HTgl7E
OSI
Ordnance Survey Ireland has evolved from the Ordnance Survey Office which was established in 1824. OSI is the state mapping agency of Ireland.
http://bit.ly/2mRrB8w
Outrage Reports
Created by chief constables of the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC). The constables were charged with writing a short summary of incidents that occurred within their county and sending the reports to the Inspector General of Constabulary. The outrage reports include descriptions of theft, assault, suicide, rescue of cattle, infanticide, arson, highway robbery, and much more.
PRO
Over the last 200 years, a huge amount of information has been collected about our relatives but unfortunately on 30/6/1922, a material amount of this information was lost forever when seven centuries of priceless Irish documents stored in the PUBLIC RECORDS OFFICE were destroyed by an explosion at the Four Courts, Dublin.
http://bit.ly/2KlL7Et
Parish
There are 2 types of parish in Ireland, Civil and Church.
Pater/Patris
Latin for father
Petty Sessions Court
Most small criminal and civil cases were handled by the Petty Sessions Court. Petty Sessions Courts even handled minor matters such as dog registration.
Ploughlands
Ploughlands and townlands were synonymous in Ireland, they were the same sort of territorial division called a ploughland in one part of Ireland, and a townland in another part.
Poor Law Union
A geographical territory, and early local government unit, in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
https://bit.ly/2Kdd29w
Province
Ireland is divided into four provinces (Connaught, Leinster, Munster and Ulster) each made up of a number of counties. For more information.
https://bit.ly/2HsI9wh
Registry of Deeds
The Registry of Deeds was established in 1708 and is the repository for memorials of deeds and conveyances representing transfers of property in Ireland.
https://bit.ly/2EUdeGW
Soror/Sororis
Latin for sister
Sponsor/Sprs.
Normally two people, not necessarily of different sex, who according to Canon Law represent the community of Faith at the Baptism. Also referred to as Godparents.
Superintendent Registrar's Districts
The births, marriage and deaths were registered by geographical areas known as Registration Districts (also known as Superintendent Registrar’s Districts).
https://bit.ly/3V2AoDl
Terrier
Written description accompanying a map.
http://bit.ly/2qPTVxO
Tithe Applotment Books
In Ireland, the origins of the tithe books reside in an act of parliament in 1823. This involved a valuation of the country, by civil parish under the direction of parochial commissioners. The books show the denominations of titheable lands and their valuations, including the landholders. Tithes were finally abolished by the Irish Church Act 1869 which disestablished the Church of Ireland.
https://bit.ly/1lsyPWo
Townland
The smallest geographical division in Ireland
https://bit.ly/2pwwCGK
Valuation Office books
The records ( 1824-1856) which underlie and inform the printed Griffiths Valuation. They contain more information about households and landholding than can be found in the printed version.
http://bit.ly/2qWlCBJ
Workhouse
Publicly funded measure to provide relief for the most destitute. Usually situated in a large market town
https://bit.ly/22gVGLI
Young Irelanders
The Young Ireland movement was a revolutionary group formed the middle of the nineteenth century. Its leaders included William Smith O’Brien, John Mitchel, Thomas Meaghar, Charles Gavan Duffy, Thomas Davis and John Dillon. In 1842, the Young Irelanders started a newspaper called The Nation, which called for Irish self government.
http://bit.ly/2HYa6vZ
Zzzz
Time for a break from your research.