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Going green: Ancestry.com indexes millions of Irish records

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1846: Old Chapel Lane, Skibbereen, County Cork during The Great Famine (1845 - 1849) which was caused by the failure of the Irish potato crop and British government inaction. 1 million people died from starvation and disease and another million fled as emigrants to Britain and North America during the Irish Famine. Original Publication: Illustrated London News - pub 1846 (Photo by HultonArchive/Illustrated London News/Getty Images)

BOSTON — 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.

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.