Ancestry.com invites users to trace Irish heritage for free

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Circa 1960: A County Donegal village. (Photo by Noel Habgood/Keystone/Getty Images)

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Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, genealogical research website Ancestry.com is making 10 million Catholic parish records from Ireland available online for free to help people trace their Irish heritage.

The goldmine of information, available for a week starting Friday, includes baptism, confirmation, marriage, and burial records from more than 1,000 parishes in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.  According to Ancestry.com, access to the records will be free until March 17 at 11:50 p.m.

The documents, in English and Latin, date from 1655 to 1915. Ancestry took documents that had already been digitized by the National Library of Ireland and indexed them, making it possible to do much quicker and more efficient searches using names, places and dates.

The U.S. Census Bureau says more than 33 million Americans claim Irish heritage.

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