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About Irish Directories

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Only a handful of truly national Irish directories are available. These directories form the largest online collection, and include the most comprehensive Irish directories available. A vital research tool, and a must for those interested in Ireland shortly before enumeration of the 1901 Census of Ireland.

Irish Directories will grow into a comprehensive collection of well over 400 directories and almanacs pertaining to Dublin, Ireland 1636 to 1900.

The directories are covered by two searches:
  • Directories of Ireland 1824-1894   Search
  • Dublin Directories 1835-1900   Search
Directories available under each search
Why use Irish Directories
Ireland’s turbulent history not only affected those living in Ireland but also affects those of us researching Irish ancestors today.

From the 12th century, the English crown had a claim on Ireland and from 1801 (Act of Union) until 1922 the whole of Ireland was officially 'British'. Additionally although the vast majority of the population was Roman Catholic the penal laws discriminated against these and others who were not members of the established church – the Church of Ireland.

This has dramatically affected the records generated within Ireland – many records generated at a more local level on the 'British mainland' where never generated in Ireland. This coupled with the loss of many records in the destruction of the Irish Public Records Office (Four Courts) in 1922 (during the 'troubles') has created important subsets of printed Irish material that have achieved a higher level of importance than their English counterparts. Irish Directories fall into this category.

Irish directories are an excellent source, often supplying information not readily available elsewhere. Directories are often the only source that actually states someone’s exact occupation. A will may describe them as a merchant whereas the directory will identify them as an ironmonger, grocer or wine merchant etc. Precise address and parish of residence are also commonly given. The only classes absent from these directories are, once again, the most disadvantaged: small tenant-farmers, landless labourers and servants.

Just as important these Irish directories also contain a tremendous amount of information regarding the local day-to-day activities and services for those residing in the Emerald Isles. These include postal and coach times, local government and church officers, information on the daily motions of the planets, festivals and fairs, state of the weather, rising and setting of the sun, time of high-water, the highways of the towns of Ireland. Giving you an insight into life in Ireland in past times.
About the Collection
This collection will grow into a comprehensive collection of over 400 directories and almanacs pertaining to Dublin, Ireland 1636 to 1900.

The earliest directories in the collection are rare almanacs date from 1636 to 1698. These almanacs contain a lot of local information on the daily motions of the planets, astrological, general and monthly observations, festival days, state of the weather, rising and setting of the sun, time of high-water, the highways and fair days of the towns of Ireland. This information, was later included as part of each directory.

The first true trade directory in Ireland was published by Peter Wilson for Dublin city, in 1751. The information gathered for each directory varied a little for each edition but the content and amount of information grew in sophistication as time went on. The regular inclusion of detailed city maps also became a popular feature. Eventually coverage spread to those areas outside the Dublin area.

Initially, the information supplied in Wilson's Directory consisted purely of alphabetical lists of merchants and traders, supplying name, address and occupation. But eventually the occupations individually listed included apothecaries, army and militia officers, attorneys, solicitors and barristers, bankers, Catholic, Church of Ireland and Presbyterian clergy, coast guard officers and ships' captains, dentists and physicians, Members of Parliament, pawnbrokers and the police. In addition the last decades of the eighteenth century also saw the inclusion of separate lists of those who might now be termed the establishment, officers of the city guilds and of Trinity College, state officials, those involved in the administration of medicine and the law, the nobility and gentry. The officers of virtually every Dublin institution, club and society were also included.

These directories may be the only place where the actual occupation is noted – rather than just a generalized term. The only people generally excluded from these directories are the poorest members of society small tenant farmers, landless labourers and servants.

Collection contents including directories coming soon

See also:  Help searching Irish Directories