1926 Census to be Opened for Research

An interesting development of relevance to some Irish family enthusiasts is the plan to make the 1926 Irish Census open to researchers.   This requires an amendment to current legislation which provides that census data must remain confidential for 100 years.

The bill currently before the Dail, the Irish parliament,   will amend that legislation simply by inserting an additional clause which exempts the 1926 census returns from this provision.  It will afford these documents heritage status “due to its importance as the first census taken since 1911 and the first taken since the establishment of the State and in recognition, therefore, of its special historical and genealogical significance”.

There has been a long campaign from various genealogical and history organisations, and particularly Michael Merrigan of the Genealogical Society of Ireland,   to effect this move.  The census has particular historical value in understanding the social effects of the formation of the Irish Free State in 1922.  [To learn more about this aspect, please visit the House of Oireachtas website and review this downloadable document:  www.oireachtas.ie/viewdoc.asp?fn=/documents/bills28/bills/2013/5013/b5013d.pdf.

Although censuses were historically taken every 10 years from 1841, the new Irish Free State was created in 1921, and there was a 15 year gap between the 1911 census and when the next census was organized by the new state in 1926.  The 1901 and 1911 census returns are already available and searchable on-line at http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/.

Dr. James Ryan

About Dr. James Ryan

Dr. James Ryan is a writer and publisher who has been active in Irish genealogy for the past 25 years. He founded Flyleaf Press – www.flyleaf.ie - in 1987, provided research services for clients for many years, and has lectured widely in North America and Ireland. His book ‘Irish Records’ (published by Ancestry Inc.) has been a standard guide for Irish genealogists since its publication in 1987. Jim is the author of IDG’s monthly column, The Emerald Isle.

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