'Irish Roots' archive



Irish Roots


Parishes and townlands are the bread and butter of genealogical research in Ireland. Once you have a family located in a particular parish, it's 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 we've created a very straightforward way to access these. Just go to the map of Ireland and click your way down to parish level. You'll 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 it's possible to see where precisely a townland is in relation to modern towns and roads. It's also now simple to toggle back and forth between the 1842 and the modern satellite view. It's surprising just how many street and field shapes have stayed the same.

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