Step Five: 19th Century Historical Sources

Griffiths evaluation

Samuel Lewis’ Topographical Dictionary of Ireland;

This was published in 1837 and is perhaps the most accessible of several 19th century printed sources. It has entries for settlements throughout Ireland right down to the smallest villages and parishes. Each entry has a description of the town/village, details of the landscape and farming, statistical data and some historical facts. You can often find nuggets of information that might not be available in other sources.

The Topographical Dictionary can be browsed online on the Library Ireland website. Simply click on a letter in the alphabetical menu to bring up an alphabetical list of towns and villages and select the town or village you want from the list.

Griffith’s Valuation

Griffith’s Valuation was a comprehensive survey of property ownership undertaken in the mid 19th century for taxation purposes. Nowadays it is an important resource for people tracing their ancestry. You can search the records online on the Ask About Ireland website. Searches can be done using family names, by clicking on ‘Griffith’s Names’ in the menu, and by location, by clicking on ‘Griffith’s Places’. You can get the most out of this resource if you have some idea of what you are looking for – a name or a specific place.

Individual records include the name, parish and links to the original pages and maps. You can learn about how much land a person occupied and where, who their landlord was and what the value of their property was. Ask About Ireland, a collaboration between Ireland’s public libraries, also has a wide selection of e-books in their online reading room. You can browse the e-books by subject or by county. The reading room contains rare and out of print books, many from the 19th and early 20th centuries. Of particular interest are the volumes of the Civil Survey, a detailed survey of land ownership in the mid 1600s.

Other Sources for your Online Research Guide; The Lawrence Photographic Collection, National Library of Ireland

The National Library of Ireland holds a vast array of material of Irish interest. The Lawrence Photographic Collection is undoubtedly one of their most absorbing collections. It contains over 36,000 photographs taken between 1860 and 1920 across Ireland. You can find photographs of public buildings, antiquities, streetscapes and much more. Many of the photographs have been digitised and can be viewed online. To access the collection, go to and search for ‘Lawrence Photograph Collection’. When you click into the collection, you can filter the photographs by location, subject and date. You can also click on a thumbnail image to view it in larger size.

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