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Out with the Old, In with the … Different

Updated: Mar 23, 2023


New Website from the National Library of Ireland (nil.ie)

I don’t know about you, but I get very comfortable with a website and a little crazy when they make a major change. I can’t recall when the last update was done to the National Library of Ireland website, but it seems to me that it always looked the same. Well, they have done a complete revamp of the site and it is attractive, however things aren’t where they’ve always been. I’ve been looking for, and still haven’t found the Sources Database which used to be on the Home Page. I have a feeling that they just updated the Home page and then linked to some of the same content.


You can get to the Catholic Parish Registers from the Home page by selecting Family History from the menu at the top of the page and then “Catholic Parish Registers” from the drop down menu. That’s pretty easy to find and it takes you to the same page as the old site. Getting Started allows you to download a blank Pedigree Chart and Family Group Sheet. Also from this spot you can set up an appointment for a consultation in the Family History Room (previously the Advisory Service). There are a few places where you can find out how to obtain a Reader's Ticket. Under Further Research you’ll find a list of various types of records, along with a brief description and typically a link to another online site. Census, for example points you to the National Archives of Ireland site; Civil Records points you to IrishGenealogy.ie, and Property Records sends you to the National Archives for the Tithe and to AskAboutIreland.ie for Griffith’s Valuation. In none of these cases is there further information on the holdings of the National Library, which is a shame.


There is a Search box on the Home page and new or inexperienced researchers might think this is the place to type in their ancestor's name. The National Library is not a database like Ancestry. For the majority of family researchers, typing your ancestors name will not provide anything helpful (unless your ancestor was wealthy, famous or infamous). Scroll down on the Home page to Explore our Collection and click on Search the Catalogue. You are now at the Catalogue page. In my opinion, the link to the Catalogue, which is where need to be in order to search for and order documents, should be up top.



The first thing you should do when you get to the Catalogue is click on Help and read it. This is not a google search. I find it most helpful to search for locations (Parish, County), or the name of the Landlord (you can typically get this from Griffith’s Valuation), or a particular historical event. You can also select the type of media, i.e., books, journals, photos or manuscripts, and the timeframe. I usually search on All Fields, however you can search on a particular field such as Call Number if, for example you have found the number is a reference book or website such as John Grenham's Irish Ancestors. I always recommend you verify the call number in the Catalogue since sometimes the numbers change. When preparing for a trip to the National Library, I usually look for manuscripts since those are items that are unlikely to be digitized (at least in my lifetime). If you plan to visit the National Library, the Catalogue is important since that is how you’ll order the material you want to view. So be creative with your searches. In early 2022 I wrote a blog on Researching at the National Library which you might find helpful. It discusses using the Catalogue and the Sources database (which haven't changed). Be aware. there are some changes, especially as to hours, visiting and the need for a Reader's Ticket even if you're just using the Family History Room. Check out the Visit tab on the Home page.


I discovered that my bookmark to The Sources Database (which used to be on the Home page with the Catalogue) still works, so even though I can’t find it referenced on the new site, you can access it at sources.nli.ie.


Happy Hunting!



There is still one space left for the Belfast trip. Please email me if you are interested.



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