The Roman Catholic Church...

Following the Reformation in Ireland in the late sixteenth century the Roman Catholic Church went through a lengthy period when its activities were severely curtailed.

The Penal Laws were a series of enactments of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries designed to remove the rights of Catholics to public office and to careers in certain professions. In spite of the Penal Laws, Catholic priests and bishops operated freely in most areas.

During the eighteenth century the Catholic Church was able to set up diocesan and parochial structures.

From the beginning of the nineteenth century many new churches were built. These either replaced earlier, less substantial buildings or were built where previously there had been no church.

It is important for family historians to bear in mind that Roman Catholic parishes generally do not conform to civil parishes. The Guide to Church Records provides the names of the civil parishes, or parts of them, included in each Catholic parish.

Most Roman Catholic parishes have more than one church. Sometimes only one register was kept for the entire parish, but at other times each church had its own registers.

PRONI has microfilm copies for Roman Catholic churches listed under MIC/1D. In addition there are some copies under CR/2.

Few Roman Catholic registers pre-date 1800 with most not beginning until the 1820s or later. In addition they will often be written in Latin and at times are almost illegible.