Irish Roots

John Grenham


Parishes and townlands are the bread and butter of genealogical research in Ireland. Once you have a family located in a particular parish, itís usually just a question of checking all the records for that parish. However, far too often a parish can have very large concentrations of families all with the same surnames and forenames. Disentangling them can be a nightmare.

One way of helping to produce evidence for family groups is physical location: two families at different ends of a parish are less likely to be intermarrying than those in adjoining townlands. So having a clear picture of the relative locations of townlands, and their relationships with features such as roads, rivers or mountains can clarify the probabilities.

A good offline source is the OSI Discovery series maps, though they are mainly concerned with contemporary information. For most genealogical researchers the best sources are the 1842 6-inch-to-a-mile maps. They are available free at askaboutireland.ie, but a bit slow, and a bit awkward to use. Now on our own Irish Ancestors site weíve created a very straightforward way to access these. Just go to http://tinyurl.com/nfm4g9 and click your way down to parish level. Youíll then get a list of all place names in the parish, and clicking on any of them will take you directly to the askaboutireland 1842 map.

We've also added a Google map feature to the parish page, so if you want to visit exact locations itís possible to see where precisely a townland is in relation to modern towns and roads. Itís also now simple to toggle back and forth between the 1842 and the modern satellite view. Itís surprising just how many street and field shapes have stayed the same.


Comments and suggestions are welcome, to irishrootsatirishtimes.com.


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