Griffith's Valuation Online

In the early 2000s, Eneclann, the National Library of Ireland and the Origins Network put together the most complete set of Griffith's Valuation ever assembled, digitally imaged it and an accompanying set of valuation maps, made a database transcription of the published volumes and had the result searchable online for a fee at www.origins.net and free in NLI. In 2009 the Library Council of Ireland acquired a licence from this consortium for the digital images and the transcripts and made them searchable free at www.askaboutireland.ie, linked to a set of Ordnance Survey maps the council acquired separately. The full original set-images, transcripts and maps-has since also been licensed by the Origins Network consortium to another paying website, www.findmypast. Consequently, the same database transcript of Griffith's is searchable on two paying sites and one free site.


The major differences between www.askaboutireland.ie and the paying sites lie in the search interface and the maps. Searching on the free site permits only a very weak surname variant option, no wild cards and no variant option at all for its placenames search. It is not possible to combine a personal name and townland name search. The placenames used in Griffith's are the versions earlier standardised by the Ordnance Survey and used in the 1851 census, so the 1851 Townlands Index, freely searchable using wild cards at www.irishtimes.com/ ancestor/placenames and www.seanruad.com, can remedy the lack of flexibility in the placenames search.

The difference in the links to the Ordnance Survey maps accompanying Griffith's is more complex and needs a little explanation. The leftmost column in the printed valuation is headed 'No and Letters of Reference to map'. Each holding within a townland or street is numbered sequentially in order of valuation, not of geographical contiguity. In general, on the accompanying map each townland is surrounded by a thick line, with the numbered subdivisions outlined inside lighter lines. Within these numbered subdivisions in the printed valuation, letters are sometimes included. Capital letters after the subdivision number (e.g. '2A, B, C') indicate separate parcels of property in the townland held by the same individual. So if a John Kelly leased two separate fields in the townland of Ballymore, these will be listed within the townland under his name following each other as 2A, B. Lower-case letters after the holding number (e.g. '2a, b, c') indicate a house situated within a parcel of property. Where a number of houses are situated on a parcel held in common by a number of listed occupiers, large braces enclose them {like this}. This was common in rural areas in early and mid-nineteenth-century Ireland, especially in the west, with anything up to twenty families farming an area in common.

In theory, all three online versions of Griffith's allow a user to go from the printed valuation to the corresponding os map and thus identify precisely a particular holding. In practice, this is sometimes difficult. The map set used by the Origins Network and www.findmypast.ie is more or less contemporaneous with Griiffith's Valuation and so corresponds more closely to it, but the maps are often badly worn, and the images are in black and white and are presented very awkwardly. The www.askaboutireland.ie maps are very clean, are in full colour and have been stitched together and overlaid on a contemporary Google map, making them much easier to manipulate and to match to modern roads and villages. But the map set is not contemporary with the printed valuation: it appears to be at least thirty years older, with the result that many of the subdivision boundaries no longer match those recorded in Griffith's.