Census returns...

1901 and 1911

An official census for all Ireland was conducted every ten years, from 1821 to 1911. The returns for the years 1821-1851 were destroyed in PROI, Dublin, in 1922. The returns for 1861 and 1871 had been previously pulped in spite of the pleas of the archivists in the Public Record Office of Ireland. The returns for 1881 and 1891 were used for waste paper in World War I. Thus the only full census records surviving for Ireland are 1901 and 1911 and these are available for inspection in the National Archives, Dublin.

The 1901 census is available on microfilm in PRONI (MIC/354).

The 1926 census for Northern Ireland was used for waste paper in World War II. The first census for Northern Ireland that survives is for 1937 and this will be available for inspection in the year 2038 (unless the 100 year closure rule is waived before that).

The 1901 census was taken on 31 March of that year. The information in the census is listed under the following headings:

  • name;
  • relationship to the head of the household;
  • religion;
  • literacy;
  • occupation;
  • age;
  • marital status;
  • county of birth (or country if born outside Ireland); and
  • ability to speak English or Irish.

Every town, village and townland is represented and those inhabitants who were at home on 31 March 1901 are listed. The 1901 census is arranged by district electoral division (DED).

To find out DED a particular townland is in it is necessary to consult the Townland Index of 1901 which is available on the shelves of the Microfilm Reading Room in PRONI. Each DED is listed in a series of calendars which will give you the appropriate reel number. Within each DED in the 1901 census the townlands are arranged alphabetically and numerically.

The 1911 census was taken on 1 April of that year and contains additional information including the number of years a wife was married, the number of children born and the number still living. This census is not yet available at PRONI, but it is hoped that it will be soon. Microfilms of the original census returns can be viewed at the National Archives in Dublin.