I’ve written a few times about using maps in your research. One of the resources I use constantly is Brian Mitchell’s A New Genealogical Atlas of Ireland. This provides a list of all of the (civil) parishes within the county. I’m always looking for resources that are digitized, and unfortunately this is not one. My solution, was to take it to the local print/copy shop and have them take it apart, scan it (to PDF) and put it back together with a spiral binding. Now, I have my desk copy, but also a digital copy when I traveling that opens on my computer or iPad.
When attempting to identify a locality in Ireland I use lots of different resources. Hopefully I have at least a county to start. If I have the maiden name of the wife for a couple married in Ireland, I’ll use Grenham’s Irish Surnames, a CD available from Eneclann, to see where in the county both the husband and wife’s surnames overlap. Next, I look at Griffith’s Valuation for both surnames to see if there are other localities where the names fall. I specifically look for given names that have been passed down in the family. Finally, I place all of this information on the county map.
On the map above I was looking for the Daly family in County Mayo. Daly was a fairly common name throughout the county, but Kirrane (the name of his second wife) was not as common. I first looked at the three localities where both names were found and in fact, I found the family I was looking for in the parish of Kilvine. If none of the three localities had turned up a match, I would have then looked at the adjoining counties where there were Kirranes. Since there were no Dalys in the other areas where the Kirrane name appeared, these were less likely locations. Remember, our ancestors were not very mobile and tended to stay in the same area for generations. It is likely that they married someone from their own parish, or an adjoining parish.
You can find civil parish maps online at the IrishTimes Ancestor site as well as Roman Catholic parish maps. The next step after finding the parish map is to look for a townland map. These are not quite as easy to find. Some are on local websites and I’ve found the best way to find them is to just search for “townland map [civil parish] [county] Ireland.” You won’t always be able to find one, but when you do, it’s very helpful. Just as you can isolate individuals to a civil parish, you can look at individuals in the townlands. When you have multiple listings of the same name in Griffith’s in the same townland it is the same person. The rule set up by Griffith was if two individuals in the same townland had the same name, then an agnomen (second name) had to be given to distinguish the various individuals. But what if you find the same name listed in different townlands? Then, the rule does not apply, but if an individual has a house in one townland, and only land in the other, it might be the same person. Looking at a townland map and seeing that the townlands adjoin might indicate the same person.
Another benefit of having a townland map is to see if your ancestor lived on the border of another parish. If so, you might also look for records in the next parish.
The maps on AskAboutIreland, attached to Griffiths are also a good place to look. Although these aren’t the original maps, they allow you to identify the location of the property. In addition, using the transparency feature you can see a current map which helps you locate the property today.
There are just a few weeks left to sign up for this year’s Ireland Research Trip to either Dublin or Belfast.