Ireland has a long history of professional genealogical work. It is from the research notes of professionals who operated prior to 1922 that we get most of the information which survived the destruction of the Public Record Office in Dublin in that year. In the wake of that disaster professional genealogists were heavily involved in the drive to rebuild the records, both in Dublin and in Belfast, where another repository, the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI), was established in 1924.

Because most genealogical sources were centralised in some shape or form in one of Dublin’s five main record offices or in PRONI, most professional researchers gravitated towards these two areas. From the 1940s to the 1980s the majority of those engaged in professional research in Dublin were attached to the Genealogical Office’s freelance panel. Some of the professionals in Belfast worked with PRONI’s research agency, while others operated independently.