Before beginning a genealogical search from public records, it is essential to collect as much information as possible about the family which is to be investigated.

In order to have a reasonable chance of carrying out a successful search, it is generally necessary to know at least three things:

  1. The Name of the family
  2. The Parish in which they lived (if surname is of the popular variety, then the townland of origin is most important or even perhaps a nickname)
  3. Approximate Date


If this information cannot be supplied, a search can still be made in certain records, but the chances of success are small.

Starting Point

The starting point for any genealogical search depends on the information one already has. If you are starting with a name, a place and an approximate date, then the best place to begin is as follows:

  • For a person living in the 1820’s or 1830’s – Tithe Applotment Books
  • For a person living in the 1850’s or 1860’s – Griffiths Primary Valuation
  • For a person living around 1901 or 1911 – Census Returns


If you also know the date of birth, marriage or death, further details can be sought in different records.

In cases where the Parish or Townland in which the family lived cannot be identified, an index to the Tithe Applotment Books/Griffiths Primary Valuation is available showing the parishes in which each surname appears.

This index is generally of value only where the name is a fairly unusual one. Otherwise it is likely to yield only a long list of persons of the same surname, with noway of knowing which, if any are connected with the particular family being investigated.

Sources of Genealogy

A Census of Ireland was taken every 10 years from 1821. Complete sets of enumerator’s returns, the original manuscript forms from which the printed census reports were compiled, have only survived for two years – 1901 and 1911. The returns were arranged by townlands or in urban areas by streets.

No enumerator’s returns have survived from the census of 1821 – 1891 for County Monaghan.

The 1901 and 1911 census for County Monaghan is available online at and on microfilm in the County Library, Clones.

While no complete set of census returns survives for a period prior to 1901, there are two records which provide a partial substitute – Griffiths Primary Valuation and The Tithe Applotments.

Griffiths Primary Valuation – This was a survey of the land and property carried out between 1847 – 1864, for purposes of local taxation. There is a printed valuation book for each poor law union showing the names of all occupiers of land and buildings and of the persons from whom these were leased, the amount of property held and the value assigned to it. Also available online at and in books at all libraries in County Monaghan.

The Tithe Applotments – These were compiled between 1823 – 1837 for the purpose of determining the amount which occupiers of agricultural holdings were to pay in tithes to the established church, the Church of Ireland. The applotment book for each parish gives the names of occupiers, the amount of land they held and the value assigned to it. Also available online at and in books at all libraries in County Monaghan.