Expert advice - death records

A key thing to note when researching death records is that although registers were indexed quarterly, and of course contain registered deaths within them, they are not necessarily the same as deaths which took place within them.

The reason why this is so is that legally deaths are required to be registered within five days of the event but, again, sometimes are registered late. A coroner’s inquest, for example, might significantly delay the issuing of a death certificate.

Some deaths which took place during a month in one quarter will be registered in a month in the next quarter. Clearly, this is most common for deaths which took place within the last month of a quarter.

For example, a death in December might be registered in January (or, indeed, in February) the following year, which means that it would be registered not in the December quarter but in the March quarter of the year following that in which it took place.

Normally, then, where you have an exact date of death, you will find the entry for the death you are looking for in the same or the next quarter.

You can also search Irish death records on findmypast


As previously mentioned, deaths should be registered within five days.

However, if the person died in uncertain circumstances, an inquest may be held and this could delay registration further. If you do not find the entry you are seeking in the same or the next quarter, therefore, it is sensible at least to check the two immediately following quarters, to cover the possibility of late registration.

Deaths - where in the country?

Deaths are registered within the district in which they occurred, which is not necessarily the same as where the deceased habitually resided -for example, if a person dies at work, while travelling or on business.

It is also the case that a hospital to which a dying person is taken might be in a neighbouring registration district to the one in which they resided - this is particularly likely in densely-populated urban areas, where there can be several districts within a geographically small area.

Death records - age adjustments

One does not register one"s own death! Therefore, one should view with caution details recorded upon it, as the reliability of these will depend of the level of knowledge of the person acting as informant at the death.

Recorded ages at deaths are often found to be unreliable.

•From September quarter 1837 to December quarter 1865 no age is given in the death index
•From March quarter 1866 to March quarter 1969 the age at death is shown in the index
•From June quarter 1969 to present, the exact date of birth is given (please see key dates).

If a recorded date of birth appears to be incorrect - in other words, you cannot find a corresponding entry in the birth index - it is more likely to be the year, rather than day or month, that is problematic (although all three may be incorrect).

Finally, of course, the individual may have been economical with the truth about their age during their lifetime and the misrepresentation may be inadvertently carried over to the registration of their death.

Death records - spelling variations

If you still have no success, you may wish to consider spelling variations, either those genuinely in use by the family, or those accidentally created by registrars or by those copying them or preparing the indexes.