No Public General Access to 8 Million Irish Historical Records, some from 17th Century, Stored in a Portlaoise Warehouse, included in Deeds: Charters, Leases, Marriage and Family Settlements, Wills, Estate Maps, Mortgages, Tenant Listings, No Digital Photos at Registry of Deeds

The background is that by 1910 most of the farmland of Ireland was put into the ownership of the former tenant farmers, subject to the payment os an annual annuity. The Landlords lands were acquired on generous terms by the Land Commission. They had to provide legal title before any money was paid and the Land Commission’s Examiners of Title (one of who was Elizabeth Bower’s father, a barrister) had to certify. This is the reason for the 8 million records.

These records are literally historical and genealogical gold dust.  A mechanism may be to ask commercial companies to tender to digitalise such as Enneclan, Ancestry or FamilySearch.  They could then make available for a fee is necessary.

An example of one of the ‘closed’ records:


Screen Shot 2017-06-28 at 07.51.39


Castledonovan ends up as the marriage settlement of Lucinda Alleyn to Samuel Jervois in 1797 (described in the Deed as her Alleyn “family lands”). Possibly it passed somehow from the Evansons to the Alleyns through the marriage of Nathaniel Evanson to Martha Alleyn.  The Jervois base was in Brade between Skibbereen and Leap.



The official attitude is regrettable in view of the destruction of records in the Public Records Office in 1922.  Additionally in Cork a fire at the Courthouse in the 1880s destroyed most of the Grand Jury Cork records.  A similar dog in the manger attitude is discerned in the Registry of Deeds who hold over 4 million records.  They do not allow digital photos ,unlike the National Library and the National Archives.


There is an onus on Public Bodies to make the records of the Irish People available.



DÁIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed)
by Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett
for WRITTEN ANSWER on 20/06/2017  

 To ask the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine if historians and genealogists can have access to records held by his department in a warehouse in Portlaoise in relation to the Land Commission; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

There are no immediate plans to make the 8 million or so records of the former Irish Land Commission (ILC)  generally available to the public for research purposes or otherwise as they are still working documents and have not been handed over to the National Archives. My officials regularly access these records to service queries from the public relating to current and past transactions and for the full completion of the work of the former ILC. Wider access will be a matter for consideration when the completion of the work of the former ILC is at a more advanced stage. The records which are available in paper format only are fragile, some dating back as far as the late 1800’s and are an irreplaceable resource should they get damaged. So in order to maintain them it is essential that they are handled and stored appropriately. Opening up access to these files cannot be considered until appropriate measures are undertaken to minimise potential damage from routine handling. While limited access is granted to persons on application, the office does not provide a research facility as the provision of such a service would require much greater resources than those currently available.   






 NO.   501

To ask the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs when the next five years of the papers will be published in view of the fact that the years 1818 to 1822 of the Chief Secretary’s office registered papers by the National archives are published.. 

– Richard Boyd Barrett.

* For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 28th February, 2017.

Ref No:

R E P L Y 

Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (Heather Humphreys T.D.:

The Deputy is referring to a project at the National Archives, to catalogue to international archival standards, the Chief Secretary ‘s Office Registered Papers from 1818 to 1852. The Chief Secretary for Ireland was the Government Minister of the British Cabinet with responsibility for governing Ireland from the early 19th century until the end of British rule. This project will facilitate public access to one of the most valuable sources of original material for research on Ireland in the first half of the nineteenth century. There are currently three archivists employed on the project.  

The catalogue records for the years 1823 – 1827 have been completed and they are in the process of being edited for online publication in addition to the drafting of other contextual material.  It is expected that these will be made available on line later in 2017.

The project was originally made possible by a bequest from the late Professor Francis J Crowley.
   Born in New Haven, Connecticut, Professor Crowley was educated at Yale and Princeton, and became a professor of French at the University of California at Los Angeles. Both his parents were born in Ireland, and in his will he bequeathed most of his estate to Ireland to be used for the preservation of records of the history of the Irish people.



DÁIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald)
by Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett
WRITTEN on Tuesday, 21st March, 2017.  

*  To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the reason the Registry of Deeds at Henrietta Street maintain a strict policy of no digital photos, which is contrary to the policy of the National Archives, the National Library, most universities and county council archives; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

– Richard Boyd Barrett 
 I can inform the Deputy that the Registry of Deeds is managed and controlled by the Property Registration Authority. Under Section 9(3) of the Registration of Deeds and Title Act 2006, the Authority is independent in the performance of its functions. The records held by the Registry of Deeds are public records. Certified copies of Memorial/ROD Application Forms filed in theRegistry of Deeds can be obtained on payment of the relevant fee. The fee for every certified copy of a memorial or application is €20. The fee for a plain copy of microfilm of a memorial or application is €1.00 per page.

In addition, the facility for on-line searching in the Registry of Deeds is available to all “” business account holders. All such records dating from January 1970 have been digitised and users are now able to search records on-line from 1970 to date and can also order Official Searches and Copy Memorials/Application Forms on-line. (Non-account holders may access these records at the Public Office in the Registry of Deeds.)

I am advised that in 2012 the Authority gave consideration to the use of digital photography for persons accessing copies ofRegistry of Deeds records. However, records in the Registry of Deeds date back to 1707 and can be fragile, requiring very careful handling and, occasionally, supervised access. As part of the review, the Authority considered all aspects including the potential social and business re-use of the records in the light of its available resources. The Authority decided to maintain its current policy due to operational reasons, i.e. the scale of resources that would be required operationally to supervise access to the records and in addition, the risk of potential damage and wear and tear of the record books. I am advised that the Property Registration Authority has no current plans to change the “no photography” policy in the Registry of Deeds as access to the records is through the Registration of Deeds Rules 2009-2013, subject to the fees as set out in the Registry of Deeds (Fees Order) 2008.