With acknowledgement to Sean Murphy https://www.facebook.com/Sean-J-Murphy-777246545723294
Hitherto the only online research facility for the Irish Registry of Deeds has been the worthy indexing project at http://irishdeedsindex.net
, which is very much a work in progress. The Mormon FamilySearch has now come to the fore by placing online Registry of Deeds grantor and placename indexes and transcripts of deeds ranging in date from 1708 until 1929 (https://familysearch.org/search/catalog/185720…
). This is a massive digitisation programme of thousands of microfilms made in the early 1950s, and quite legible in most cases. These records are not databased as yet, and so must be browsed for entries, using the limited grantors and placenames indexes for guidance.
Again it should be noted that these Registry of Deeds records relate in the main to wealthier families and it would be a rare tenant farmer or labourer who would be found therein. While skewed towards Protestants during the eighteenth-century penal era, the wealthiest Catholics too will appear in the Registry, and by the nineteenth century denominational exclusion is less in evidence. Those new to the Registry of Deeds archive should remember that the massive online listing is divided into grantors' indexes (grantees are not indexed separately), land or placename indexes, followed by the largest element, the transcripts of deeds. The indexes from 1708 provide three key references, namely, volume, page and memorial number, and in 1833 an improved indexing system including address of property was introduced. The index references lead to the relevant memorial transcript, which in most cases tends to be a complete or substantial transcript of the original deed.
I tested the system by searching for the famous 9,000-year lease whereby Arthur Guinness acquired the core of the brewery at James's Gate in Dublin in 1759. It took a bit of navigating, but as the grantor Mark Ransford was known, I was eventually able to progress from the grantors index entry under letter 'R' 1759, to the transcript of the deed (volume 201, page 554, memorial number 134396), which was easily downloaded as a JPG image file. Until a full database of the digitised records is completed, we will not be able to search quickly for grantees, family members, witnesses and other named individuals in deeds.
Once more the Mormons have acted to digitise Irish records where our government has been slow or inactive, in the case of the Registry of Deeds, represented by the Department of Justice. This fearsome agency has for a number of years banned users from taking photographs of records in the Registry of Deeds. The deeds repository is a remarkable archive dating from the later Stuart era, which somehow escaped the destruction which befell the Public Record Office in 1922.
The FamilySearch initiative is a marvellous gift for genealogists and historians in Ireland and abroad, but those who live within striking distance of the Registry of Deeds in Henrietta Street, Dublin, will obtain maximum value from the repository through continued personal visits, now supplemented by free digital searches and downloads. For more on the history and record organisation of the Registry of Deeds, see my article, 'A Most Valuable Storehouse of History' (http://www.historyireland.com/…/a-most-valuable-storehouse-…).