Ashes to Archives: free access to birth, marriage and death records from 27-30 June

We have launched an online resource for anyone tracing their Irish ancestry, to coincide with the anniversary of the loss of vast numbers of historical Irish records in June 1922.

Just after 2pm on the 30th June 1922, two massive explosions reduced the Public Records Office of Ireland, housed in the historic Four Courts in Dublin, to a shell. Inside, hundreds of years of Irish history and millions of records - including nearly all the Irish census records from the 19th century - were reduced to ash. After the explosion, burnt fragments of documents fluttered around Dublin city, some as far as Howth. Notices appeared asking people to return any fragments of documents that they might have found, no matter how small or badly damaged. It’s believed that many were kept as mementos.

That event is seared in the mind of family historians worldwide because since then, Irish genealogy has been notoriously one of the most perplexing to trace. However, according to, all is not lost.

The online collection of resources focuses on what records were lost in 1922, what survived and the millions of surprising alternatives available for tracing your Irish roots. There are also tips on getting started on your own Irish family history.

Also, as part of the campaign, we are offering completely free access to the Irish birth, marriage and death records on their website from Thursday 27 to Sunday 30 June.

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