Irish General Register Office records



Surname


The order followed in the printed indexes is strictly alphabetical, but it is always necessary to keep variants of the surname in mind. In the late nineteenth century, when a majority of the population were illiterate, the precise spelling of their surname was a matter of indifference to most people. Thus members of the same family may be registered as, for example, Kilfoyle, Gilfoyle, or Guilfoile. The question of variants is particularly important for names beginning with 'O' or 'Mac'. Until the Gaelic revival in the last decades of the 19th century, these prefixes were often treated as entirely optional and, in the case of the 'O's particularly, more often omitted than included. Before starting a search in the Indexes, therefore, it is essential to have as clear an idea as possible of the variants to be checked. For the online versions, variant searching is the default, but should never be entirely trusted. A listing of known variants can be found for free on this site, but new versions are constantly coming to light. Caution is the only remedy.

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