Irish Roots

November 1st, 2010

John Grenham

As part of Innovation Week, Dublin City Library and Archive have just released the third edition of their Directory of Graveyards in the Dublin Area, long familiar as the principal reference guide to Dublin cemeteries and their associated records. The last edition was published in 1990, so an update is very welcome. What’s innovative is that this edition is entirely web-based, at www.dublinheritage.ie/graveyards, and there are no plans to produce a paper version. Book-lovers might feel a pang of regret, but the website manages things that would simply be impossible in print.

It offers two distinct ways of approaching the information, both based around Google maps. The simplest method is just to choose a graveyard from the drop-down list on the home-page and be shown its position on a map, along with listings of the locations of any associated burial records, cemetery records and published gravestone transcripts, all linked to any on-line transcripts. For most places, the accompanying satellite imagery is nearly precise enough to allow you to read the headstones yourself.

The “Browse” area gives a large-scale map of Co. Dublin with all of the graveyards marked, providing a very clear sense of where they all are in relation to one another. You can then click on an individual marker to see all the information for each cemetery. The sheer congestion made evident in the Browse overview gives an immediate insight into just how many burials happened. Like every city, until relatively recently Dublin was literally deadly to many of its inhabitants: disease, overcrowding and horrific sanitation continually killed large numbers, creating a constant demand for fresh migrants, and a constant demand for new burial space.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I should confess that I had a hand in developing the site, and excellent esoteric fun it was.


Comments and suggestions are welcome, to irishrootsatirishtimes.com.

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