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1911 Irish Census

Patrick Martin House in Doagh, Magheracloone, Monaghan

   There are few differences between the 1901 and 1911 census.   The 1911 adds columns for the number of years married and like our 1900 and 1910 censuses in the US, for females, the number of children born and the number still living.   This can be a clue to missing children in your family tree.  Since births were registered beginning in 1864, try to search for all children of the surname in the locality.  This is obviously easier if you don’t have a common surname.  Since the early indexes don’t include mother’s maiden name, you can only search on Registration District and time period.  Using IrishGenealogy, you can then view the image of the registration and compare for the parents’ names to make certain you have the correct individuals.   The indexes for baptisms at RootsIreland are more flexible in searching although you are limited by the timeframes as many of the church records stop in the 1880s.  As always, be flexible with spelling and dates.

   So let’s look at the Martin family in the 1911 census.  By 1911 a number of the children had emigrated to the US, but Patrick didn’t die until 1922, so he should be there.  I’ve visited the house in Doagh (photo above; still owned by a member of the family), so I know they remained there.  My search, however, provided no result.  

I next went back and to the search page and used "Browse by Place" selecting 1911 > Monaghan > Drumcarrow (the DED) > and there was Doagh (the townland). So it was there, but it was in Irish!

Another way to find it was to search the 1911 census with no surname, just the county, townland and DED. I went through each page looking at all of the “Padraigs” (or other names beginning with “P”) until I found the correct family.

Unfortunately, I don’t know Irish…something I’d like to learn.   The forenames I could figure out, Patrick, Ann, Thomas and Elizabeth, but the surnames must vary based on sex (Mac or Mic), or possibly transcription errors (Nic). What is Giolla/Ghiolla?  As I read through the other entries, I also found Ó Maírtín and Ní Maírtín, Ua Mártain, Ó Mocháin, Ní Mhartain, and probably some I missed. I know that words in Irish frequently don’t have the same sounds we would ascribe to them in English and on a visit to Ireland in the 90’s, a cousin (descendant of Éilise) referred to her grandfather at “Paddy Wharer” …my spelling.  When I asked her what this meant, she said there were so many Martins in the area, including a number of Patricks, that this Patrick was identified as the son of Maura.  Do the different spellings perhaps indicate separate families? Here’s the image of the census.

Notice that the instructions are all in English.  This is the only census I’ve come across that is written in Irish, however I've been told that it was a form of protest and it is found in other areas as well. So Patrick and Ann have been married 18 years and she has had one child (Elizabeth) who is still living.  Interesting that the information on Patrick was written above then crossed out (this column was only for women).  Patrick has had 10 children with seven living.  The seven living fits with what I know…the youngest child of Patrick’s first marriage was my husband’s grandmother.  Her mother died the day after she was born.  I’m going to have to go back and see if I can find the other three who likely were stillborn or died in infancy.

   Checking the House and Building Return, there are no changes in the house from the 1901 census, and the names are all given in English. However, on the Out-offices and Farm-steading Return, the stable no longer in exists and there are only 5 buildings.

   So what about the next census?  There was no 1921 census, as the country was in the middle of their War of Independence.  The next census was done for the Republic of Ireland in 1926 and with the 100 year rule, that census will not be available until January of 2027.  There has been a lot of effort put in to getting the government to release the 1926 Census early (as was done with both the 1901 and 1911 census).  There is still an active petition, so if you haven't signed it, you can find it here.

   What about Northern Ireland?  There was also a Census of Northern Ireland done in 1926 by the British Government. The 1931 UK census only included England, Wales and Scotland since the 1926 census of Northern Ireland had been done.  Unfortunately, the 1926 schedules were destroyed after the statistical information was compiled so nothing remains.  The 1931 UK census was subsequently destroyed in a fire.


   So the sad story of the Irish census continues.  Next week I’ll look at some substitute records that might help fill in the blanks.


   Happy Hunting!

All images shown here are used as examples and are available free at The National Archives of Ireland site.

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