top of page

School Records in Ireland

   If you follow me on Facebook, (DonnaMoughtyGenealogy) this past week I linked to additions for both Monaghan (scroll to bottom of the page) and Tipperary School Records. In 2018 during the Ireland Research Trip, Fintan Mullen at the Ulster Historical Society did a presentation for the group on School Records. It wasn’t anything I had used in the past, but he made the point that these records in Northern Ireland were considered state records and had to be saved.  The majority of the surviving records for Northern Ireland are held at PRON (approximately 1600 schooIs from the 1860s to the 1940s.  In the Republic of Ireland, the documents were not considered state records, so they might be found in any number of locations and are likely incomplete.

   The National School system in Ireland began in 1831 but was not compulsory for children 6-14 until 1892. (“Education: Primary Public Education—National Schools From 1831,”  Even after 1892 there were enough loopholes in the system, that not all children attended school. In the 1901 census of the King family in County Down, I’ve always found it interesting that all of the female children could read, but the male children could not. I have not found the male children in the registers.  Also from the 1901 Census, the female children and the younger male children worked in the local factory as “Factory Reelers” (a person who cranks a winding reel to wind a measured length of yarn from sample bobbin). School Records for those from Northern Ireland can be found at PRONI, but are not online.

   There are multiple types of school records and the ones I found most interesting are the Registers (see image at the top of the page).  These may list the date of birth, residence, father’s occupation and any other previous national schools attended (helpful if the family moved).  For each student the registers list the year, the number of days school was attended, the grade level, results of examinations and when they last attended.  In the example above Bridget King, daughter of a farmer, attended the Magheramayo Female School in County Down. It shows her attending school for the years ending 30 Jun 1899 - 1903 transferring in from the Infant Class.  Bridget attended the most days (105) in 1901 and moved from Level 1 to Level 2 during the year ending 1902.  Her last day of attendance was 17 October 1902, with the notation “Gone to America.”  Notations such as these can be helpful in tracing a family that might have disappeared.  They may have moved to another area in Ireland, or to England, Australia or the U.S.  As an FYI, here is a link to a chart that compares Irish Levels with US Grades.

   Other records at the National Archives (for the Republic of Ireland) include Applications for Grants, Salary Books, Records relating to teacher training, Newspaper cuttings and Daily Report Books. If you had a family member that was a teacher in a National School, you may find those records.  Keep in mind that these records are not complete.  You can find a list of the schools here.  There is also a List of Teachers Employed by the Commissioners of National Education on 31 March 1905 that can be viewed.

   So what about other locations?  The Registers may still be in local custody, at the County Library or Archives, or at the County Genealogy Centre at RootsIreland.  Part of the problem I’ve had in the past, is trying to determine what school was attended. Last week I posted on Facebook about the addition of the Monaghan School Registers at RootsIreland.  They are part of the Census Substitutes, but I needed to know what school to search.  I went to Google Maps and searched for Dooagh, Magheracloone, Monaghan.  I then searched on schools nearby.  The only school close was Ballynagearn (Girls) which was about 3km from Dooagh.

Next, I searched for Martins at RootsIreland using the Census Substitutes selecting the Ballynagearn  N.S. Register (Girls) and got no results.  (Hint: Don’t include the parish and townland).

Once I removed the locality fields, I got a three page list of Martins (a very common name).  All of the children from Dooagh were my Anne J[ane] Martin and her sisters.   

When you click on the Ireland Icon on the right, RootsIreland provides only a transcription and not an image.

   Anne J appears on Roll no. 8824, Page 7.  She was 5 years old on 4 March 1895 when she entered, Pupil Register no. 513, a Roman Catholic from Dooagh and her father was a farmer.  I’ve written to the Monaghan Centre to determine if they have the microfilm or if it is at another location (either the school or the County Library). I had no luck searching on the number or the name of the school at the National Archives.

   Finally, Findmypast has a database, Ireland National School Registers.  This list is not complete, however you can view the schools that are included by County.  The schools I was looking for in Leitrim, Mayo or Monaghan were not included. No schools were listed for Westmeath.  I did a random search, and it does list the microfilm number as from the National Archives of Ireland on the transcription and also includes an image of the original.  Perhaps you’ll be lucky!

   Overall, the School records can provide information on your ancestors and the early ones, especially can fill in information not available from other sources.  Hopefully additional schools will be added in the future and I’ll try to keep up by highlighting the additions on Facebook.  I’ll also add them to the Links and Resources by County.

   Happy Hunting!

Don't forget that you can order the updated Irish Quick Reference Guides

in PDF format here.

239 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page