Virtual Record Treasury of Ireland

June 2024 Research Updates

Sunday, 30 June 2024 marked the 102nd anniversary of the explosion and fire which destroyed the Public Record Office of Ireland in 1922, in the opening engagement of the Civil War. To mark the date, the Virtual Record Treasury of Ireland (VRTI) announces an advance release of thousands of historical documents, identified in partner archives in Ireland and around the world, which replace records lost in 1922.

Freely available online for the first time, these give a fascinating insight into seven centuries of Irish history. 

Through deepening collaborations between historians, computer scientists, archives, and libraries, across the island of Ireland and around the globe, the VRTI is shining a light on Ireland’s deep history.

On this page, you can:

  • Explore new discoveries shared by partners across the island of Ireland and around the globe.
  • View over 25,000 historical records telling Ireland’s story — from Norman taxes to the pre-Famine census.
  • Sample the fascinating full-scale Gold Seams to be released in 2025.

Latest Updates

June 2024 Release at a glance:

  • The new 1798 Rebellion collection, curated in partnership with the National Archives, Ireland (NAI), provides digital access to the catalogue of 8,000 items in the Rebellion Papers, shining a light on this pivotal moment. This collection offers a unique insight into the birth of Irish Republicanism, as well as the nature of the 1798 Rebellion. 
  • Detailed detective work is helping to uncover transcripts of the pre-Famine census destroyed in 1922. To date, VRTI has identified over 200,000 names from the lost pre-Famine census. A small sample of these transcribed records, held in the National Archives, Ireland and other archives across the island of Ireland, are now available online for the first time.
  • A precious 15th-century register from Armagh, conserved and digitised by the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, documenting relations between Gaelic Ulster and the English crown in the Middle Ages.
  • Medieval exchequer records digitised and translated up to 1327 by The National Archives UK including records relating to the pivotal years of the Scottish invasion of Ireland under King Robert Bruce.
  • A volume from the huge State Papers Ireland collection is now available free of charge on the VRTI, providing a view from London in the 1600s. This a taster of the 26,000 images from The National Archives UK to be launched in 2025.

1798 Rebellion Papers

The Rebellion Papers are a unique collection of letters, preserved in the National Archives of Ireland, mostly relating to the years surrounding the 1798 Rebellion. The collection consists of letters sent to the Chief Secretary’s Office in Dublin Castle, written by a range of correspondents: from postmasters and magistrates, to military generals and police constables.

The papers mostly date from 1790 to 1808, capturing a period marked by dramatic political upheaval in Ireland. They provide a unique window into events such as the birth of Irish republicanism, the creation of the Orange Order; attempted invasions by revolutionary France; uprisings against British rule in 1798 and 1803, and the extinction of the Irish Parliament via the Act of Union in 1801.

Calendars of the Rebellion Papers (Curated Collection)

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Treasures of the Rebellion Papers (Image Gallery)

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Gleanings from the censuses of Ireland (Curated Collection)

The loss of the pre-Famine Irish census records was a tragedy, personal details of millions of people went up in smoke. But now, careful detective work is uncovering some of these lost lives. Before the fire of 1922, family historians had copied details of many individuals and families, and sometimes even of entire districts, from the original records. These transcripts – often just scribbled notes and jumbled jottings – are turning up in archives and libraries. Browse this collection, with sample households from every province, and stay tuned for many more names (over 200,000 according to current research) coming on stream in 2025.

Click here to explore!

National Archives, Ireland, Crosslé Papers, Smith notebook, III, p. 262.

Swayne’s Register

Conserved and digitised for the first time, this precious fifteenth-century paper register from Armagh, which documents relations between Gaelic Ulster and the English crown in the Middle Ages, is now available to browse here.

Additionally, D.A. Chart’s 1935 calendar of the register, which includes English translations, has also been digitised and linked to the original here.

Read more about the conservation work in Sarah Graham’s blog on the subject.

PRONI DIO/4/2/3 - Register of Primate John Swayne, Archbishop of Armagh

Dublin Gazette (Curated Collection)

Published by Authority.

The Dublin Gazette is the record of official Ireland, published occasionally from the late seventeenth to early eighteenth centuries, and continuously from 1711 to 1922. No complete run of all issues of the Gazette survives, but by combining the holdings of our archival partners the Virtual Record Treasury of Ireland is working to reassemble this unique source. This curated collection highlights the mid-eighteenth century, reflecting not only elite politics but also daily life, from street-crime to food prices and shipping news.

Click here to explore!

National Library of Ireland: Erskine Childers Papers MS48,084/2.

Map Room Curated Collection

This curated collection contains over 6,000 of the most important historical maps of Ireland, varying in scale and size from the outline of a single building to maps of the entire island. The Map Room includes printed and manuscript maps, topographical maps as well as nautical charts.

The content is divided into three distinct epochs:

  • Before Sir William Petty’s Down Survey of the 1650s
  • Between the Down Survey and the first Ordnance Survey of the 1840s
  • After the Ordnance Survey, until 1922.

Click here to explore!

Eryn. Hiberniae Britannicae InsulAE, Nova Descriptio. Irlandt.

Merchants and Mariners (Curated Collection)

Curated by Dr Daryl Hendley Rooney in partnership with Timothy O’Neill.

This collection of index cards was researched, written and compiled by historian and calligrapher Timothy O’Neill. The source material contained within this collection provided the basis for O’Neill’s insightful monograph, Merchants and Mariners in Medieval Ireland (1987), which explored Irish medieval trade, shedding new light on the island’s rich maritime and mercantile history over the period A.D. 1300–1500.

Click here to explore!

Illustration by Timothy O’Neill

Registry of Deeds, Transcript Books

Over 400 items have been added in the latest addition from Tailte Éireann, Registry of Deeds, Transcript Books. Volume 2 is now fully searchable online here!

By 2025, the Tailte Éireann collection on VRTI will include 20 volumes from the Registry of Deeds Transcript Book series commencing in 1708, approximately 11,300 pages containing 10,300 memorials and 6.7 million words of searchable content!

ROD PR/TB/1/2/213 - Memorial 213: Andrews to Magan

Genealogy Page Updates

Unlike a commercial genealogy site, the records in the Virtual Treasury contain names mixed in with many other types of information, so be prepared to do some digital digging! Our help pages have short videos guiding you on how to do a search, how to find a name or word within a digital record, and how to browse an entire series. It can be helpful to look at these videos before starting.

Click here to explore!

ROD PR/TB/1/1 — Book 1 (1708–9)

Library Network Page

Library collections contribute a unique and significant array of material to the Virtual Record Treasury. The Library Network brings together key libraries from across the Participating Institutions to celebrate the presence of Irish collections within these institutions and to foster cross-institutional collaboration.

Members of the network include:

  • National Library of Ireland
  • Royal Irish Academy
  • The British Library
  • Bodleian Libraries, Oxford
  • Cambridge University Library
  • Trinity College Dublin

Click here to explore!

From L to R, Top Row: RIA A.i.1, Bodleian MS. Carte Catalogues, CUL Kk.1.15; Bottom Row: BL Cotton Titus B X, TCD 578, NLI MS 855.

Research Strands Refresh

Our five research strands have each received updates.

Click on any of the images below to see more.

Retracing Archival Footsteps

Cultures of Conquest


Castle & Country

Localities & Communities