Our resident Green Room Genealogist- Jayne McGarvey – gives us a graphic Walkthrough the Irish census – with an emphasis on using the additional forms. She uses one of her own family members (see the reference section at the end of this module). This is a graphic lesson with written instruction – there is no video included.


  • Purpose of this course.
  • Outline of each Module in the Training.



Getting the Most out of the 1901/1911 Census of Ireland. By Jayne McGarvey.

Most of us will by now be familiar with reading Census Returns, but do you make full use of the additional forms included with the Census?  Here is the typical window that gives you access to these additional forms (click on image to enlarge):

Most of us will use Form A as well as the hand written version of the transcript. Here they are for my great-grandparents and their children in 1901:

First, the transcribed version (click on image to enlarge):

And here is an image of the hand-written version (normally completed by the head of the household – click on image to enlarge):

Spot the difference in spelling on the transcript from what is recorded by hand!  Clara (has been interpreted as Clard in one and Clora in another case).  Other of the children’s names have been spelt differently than on their birth certificates and the order of names changed.  Herbert has no age on the transcript – form A shows that he is 10 months old.  Great Grandpa George Maurice Wheelhouse has kindly noted he was born in Nottingham, before scribbling this out and replacing it with England, making tracking his and his brother’s birth a relatively easy matter, although his birth certificate shows him as George Moris Wheelhouse.

There is more, however, that can be teased out of the Census Returns – let’s have a look at the other forms – Form A additional pages will tease out a little more information regarding PLU, Parish, Townland and street number amongst other things (click on image to enlarge):

Form N The Enumerator’s Abstract  will tell you how many families there are in each house, this can be very useful in shared accommodation and handy for distinguishing between relatives (click on image to enlarge):

Possibly one of the most telling forms is House and Building Return Form B1 (click on image to enlarge):

This one will give you a lot of information about the property itself.  How it is constructed, number of rooms and whether the property has any out buildings.  It also gives the number of rooms occupied by each family, the class of house and in many cases the name of the landowner.

Particularly in rural dwellings, and especially farms, Form B2 – The out-offices provides a break-down of the types of out-house.  From calf houses to stables to piggeries and the occasional set of dog kennels this information can tweak out information about the activities of the family (click on image to enlarge):

Also, by comparing information between the two census, you can see whether they stay in the same house. If you are having difficulty working out if it is the same house, do the number of out-houses match up, or have they been adding additional barns, extending the property?  Or has a family moved to a larger or smaller property possibly to accommodate additional children.

Some additional notes:

Note 1: For anyone not familiar with the Irish Census the house number is not a street number, it is no more or less than the order in which the enumerator collected his information.

Note 2: if you are looking at a census for Belfast, check out the street directories at Mary Lennon’s great site – with a bit of luck if your family hasn’t moved about too much you may be able to match up the actual address.

That’s it from Jayne – please do feel free to leave specific questions and comments below and I’m sure she will be happy to answer!

Questions for you:

  • Have you used the Irish Census Records before?
  • Did it help you with new discoveries and connections? (Maybe it is now time to try one of the approaches shown above?)
  • What additional useful hints/tips (using the census returns) would you like to recommend to other members?

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