Library and Online Resources


These are an invaluable resource about life in the past as well as being an important research tool for specific topics. County libraries have local editions available on microfiche and many national and provincial papers are available online at  Many newspapers now make their archives available.

Griffiths Valuation 1848-1864

Irelands Valuation office conducted its first survey of property ownership in Ireland from 1848  to 1864. This survey became known as “Griffiths Valuation” after Richard Griffith who was the director of the office at that time. The survey was used to determine the amount of tax each person should pay towards the support of the poor within their poor law union. This involved determining the value of  all privately held lands and buildings in rural as well as urban areas to figure the rate at which each unit of property could be rented year after year. The resulting survey was arranged by barony and civil parish with an index to the townlands appearing in each volume. Griffith’s Valuation can be used as an excellent census substitute for the years after the Great Famine as censuses prior to 1901 were destroyed.

Find out more here

O’Donovan’s Ordnance Survey Records

Name Books

Compiled during the first Ordnance Survey of 1838, these books give a list of townlands in each parish, their names in Irish and their meaning. They also give a brief description of the physical features of each townland and the proprietor of the land is usually given.


Written during the first Ordnance Survey of 1838, John O’Donovan’s letters detail the history and antiquities of each parish. Some editions have been recently re-issued.

In county libraries or the National Library of Ireland; search the

Census records

The census in Ireland is carried out by the Central Statistics Office. The census is carried out every five years, with more detailed information collected in years ending in 1 and less in the years ending in 6.

The first complete census to survive for Ireland is the 1901 census. Earlier returns were destroyed during the Irish civil war (1922).

The 1901 and 1911 censuses of Ireland can be viewed online for free at the National Archives of Ireland’s website.

Subsequent census records will be made publicly available 100 years after collection.

The School’s Manuscript Collection 1937-1938

In 1937 the Irish Folklore Commission, in collaboration with the Department of Education and the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation, initiated a revolutionary scheme in which schoolchildren were encouraged to collect and document folklore and local history.

Over a period of eighteen months some 100,000 children in 5,000 primary schools in the twenty-six counties of the Irish Free State were encouraged to collect folklore material in their home districts. The topics about which the children were instructed to research and write included local history and monuments, folktales and legends, riddles and proverbs, songs, customs and beliefs, games and pastimes, traditional work practices and crafts, etc. The children collected this material mainly from their parents and grandparents and other older members of the local community or school district. Now known as the Schools’ Manuscript Collection, the books are available in County Libraries on microfiche but are more easily accessible online at


Directories first appeared in the late 18th century. They include a wide variety of information on all walks of life from professionals and tradesmen to scholars. The following information is taken from where these and many more directories and similar publications can be searched online.

Thom’s Directory

“Thom’s Irish Almanac and Official Directory” was f irst published in 1844 by Alexander Thom and is still being published today.
The county by county sections provide statistical information compiled from the census, as well as the leading civil servants in each county, including local magistrates, Boards of Guardians of the Poor Law Unions, and information on the Petty Sessions and county fairs. The final portion of Thom’s is made of information on Dublin City and County.

For more information on visit Thom’s Directories 

Pigot’s Directory 1824

This book was the first comprehensive commercial directory of Ireland ever published. It includes over 220 urban centres throughout the island, and 58,203 names. It is organised by all four provinces, and has a detailed introduction to each. Entries are then by town, and it lists all the principal office holders, gentry, professionals, tradesmen, hotels, schools, public institutions, churches, and even pubs for the broad district around that town.

Slater’s National Commercial Directory of Ireland 1846

Isaac Slater took over publication of Pigot’s directories, and this was his first full commercial directory for the entire country. Organised by Province, and then town, it lists all the principal office holders, gentry, professionals, trades, hotels, schools, public institutions, churches, and even pubs for each town in Ireland. It has almost twice as much detail as its predecessor (published in 1824), with 103,674 names and 783 pages. The book is organised into four sections, by province, with additional details for the four main cities of Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Belfast.

Photographic Collections

The Wynne Collection, 1870 – ?

A collection of approximately 2000 photographs taken by Thomas Wynne, Castlebar and his descendants. Subjects include West of Ireland landscapes, architecture, streetscapes, studio portraits, historical events, etc. The collection was donated to Mayo County Library by the Wynne family.

Contact Information: Ivor Hamrock
Local History Department, Castlebar Central Library, John Moore Rd, Castlebar, Co. Mayo.
Phone: +353 (0)94 9047953

The Lawrence Collection 1870-1914

The Lawrence Collection consists of glass plate negatives. The images were produced commercially and capture scenes of that period throughout Ireland. The bulk of the outdoor images were taken by Robert French, the Lawrence’s’ chief photographer.                  

The National Folklore Photographic Collection

The National Folklore Collection’s photographic collection consists of some 80,000 photographs. Themes include vernacular dwellings and other man-made features, livelihoods, crafts, commerce, transport, the sea, education, the practice of religion, food, dress, festivals and rites of passage, storytellers, musicians, pastimes and sport.

Click here to browse the photographic collection


Low and medium resolution images can be freely downloaded by users. Those seeking to obtain high resolution digital copies of individual images should contact the National Folklore Collection at A handling charge of €10.00 per image is charged for such copies.


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