This article was originally published in The Irish At Home and Abroad journal of Irish genealogy and heritage (volume 2 #1, 1994/1995).
No longer published.

Colonial Scots-Irish Immigrants:

The Irish Records

- Place Names

By Kyle J. Betit

If a place of origin is found in North American records, the next step is to try to identify exactly where in Ireland this place was. Place names varied over time, as did the spellings of those names. An immigrant who left Ireland in the colonial time period might have carried to North America a place name that is no longer in use (such as an alternate townland name or spelling). Some sources for identifying places in Ireland include:



  1. * The 1851, 1871, and 1901 indexes to towns and townlands were compiled to go along with the censuses of those years. The 1851 index was published as General Alphabetical Index to the Townlands and Towns, Parishes and Baronies of Ireland... The 1871 (FHL #476999 item 2) and 1901 (FHL #865092) indexes are available on microfilm through the FHL.

  2. *The county indexes to the Registry of Deeds books can be used to find deeds relating to particular places (such as townlands).

  3. *Ordnance Survey Name Books (available at the National Library of Ireland) were compiled when the names and boundaries of townlands in Ireland were standardized in the 1830s. These books list the various names and spellings that had been attributed to each townland prior to standardization.

  4. *Manuscript Index of All Names on the First 6" Survey Maps (available at the National Library of Ireland) includes not only townlands, but also sub-townland place names.

  5. *The Ulster Place Name Project is part of the Celtic Department of Queen's University in Belfast. They have compiled a computer data base of place names, including place names taken from the Ordnance Survey Name Books for the six counties of Northern Ireland.

For more detailed information on these and other place name sources, see the chapter "Administrative Divisions in Ireland," in Betit and Radford's Ireland: A Genealogical Guide for North Americans.
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