CIGO Guide to Irish Calendars of Wills
There are now a number of different ways of searching the Calendars of Wills and
Administrations for different time periods. Since May 2013, most of
these Calendars have been made available online.
These Calendars date from 1858 when responsibility for probate
matters was transferred from the ecclesiastical courts of the
Established Church to the civil courts.
This guide should be read in conjunction with the information on the website of the National Archives
of Ireland (NAI) on wills
and testamentary records and the will
calendar search guide (dated April 2012) and the information on the history
of probate on the website of the
Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI).
Note that the years in all cases below refer to the year in which a
grant was issued and not to the year of death.
- 1858-1917 (32 counties):
A database containing all entries from the printed Calendars of
Wills and Administrations for this period can be searched by
filling in this
search form which will display results ten at a time.
Alternatively, the database can be searched here which will display results 100 at a time. The NAI
website confirms that up to 1917, the Calendars cover the
whole of Ireland, but since 1918 they cover only the 26 counties
in the Republic. Although, some of the Principle Registry entries may relate to testators with addresses in what became Northern Ireland in 1922.
Although the afore-mentioned database is entitled 'Calendars of Wills and Administrations, 1858-1922' as of 4 June 2013 it includes only one grant issued in 1921 and
only two grants issued in 1922. There are many entries for
1918-1920, which all appear to be taken from a card index
covering only the Principal Registry in Dublin and the District
Registries in the 26 counties. Due to gaps in the digitised
records for these years, it is advisable to check the original
hard copy Calendars in the NAI and/or PRONI.
- 1858-1919 (District Registries of Armagh, Belfast &
The PRONI Will
Calendars database 1858-1943 includes entries relating to the
District Registries of Armagh, Belfast & Londonderry, which
cover what became Northern Ireland. However, up to 1921 it also includes border areas
of what later became the Republic of Ireland, as Armagh and Londonderry probate
districts extended into parts of Monaghan, Cavan and Donegal. These entries, abstracted
from the all-Ireland Calendars of Wills and
Administrations, can be found on the PRONI
website. As of 3 June 2013, part of 1921 had still to be
added to this database, as did all of 1920. These three district
registries were abolished in 1921. NB: for the pre-1922 period,
this database does not note any grants issued by the Principal
Registry (which was based in Dublin).
- 1922-1943 (Northern Ireland):
In 1922, a new Principal Registry was established in Belfast to
serve Northern Ireland. The PRONI Will
Calendars database is complete, for the six counties of
Northern Ireland, for the years 1922-1943.
- 1923-1982 (Republic of Ireland):
Individual calendars for this period can be downloaded one by
one in PDF format by clicking on the relevant year in this table:
The desired name of the deceased can be located by scrolling
through the downloaded file in a PDF viewer. Unfortunately these
PDF files are very large and are not searchable for
administrators, executors or other fields.
Individual pages from Will Calendars can also be downloaded as
TIF files, for example the first page of the 1923 Calendar is here.
Any selected page can be downloaded by right-clicking this link,
copying the URL and changing the year and page towards the end of
The above links to the scanned images of the Calendars of
Wills and Administrations refer to the website of the
National Archives of Ireland (NAI). They note all grants of
probate and administration issued during the years 1923-1982.
- 1935-1949 (Republic of Ireland):
Additionally, searching in the years 1935-1949 can also be done via the NAI
website given that each entry in the calendars for those years
(amounting to approximately 160,000 entries) has been entered
into the NAI catalogue. Enter the name of the deceased in this search
- 1983-1987 (Republic of Ireland):
From 1983 the Calendars were computerised and the hardcopy version discontinued. Data from the computerised Calendar has been used by the National Archives to create an entry for each will and administration packet. Probate papers generally transferred to the National Archives on a twenty year incrememt. They will usually appear in the NAI catalogue
with a NAI reference 21 or 22 years after the date of issue of the
- 1988-date (Republic of Ireland):
According to the NAI
website, current practice is that original wills and
administration papers are transferred to the National Archives
once the grant is 20 years old. Thus, for grants issued in the
last twenty years or so, application should be made to the
Two short 'how to use' guides to the subset of
Calendars where were available as of March 2012 appear on Claire
Santry's blog and on Chris
As of 3 June 2013, the Calendars of Wills and
Administrations were scheduled to become available also at
FamilySearch.org. More information here.