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Best Internet Genealogy - Irish Placenames
The genealogy research community is in debt to John Broderick (AKA Sean Ruad) for the creation of the IreAtlas townland database. We also thank Ed Finn who maintains the database and query forms at www.seanruad.com, after John's death in 2001.
Identifying placenames is important in family research, but it can be difficult.
Irish Geography Terminology
Counties: There are 32 counties in Ireland.
Barony: A subdivision of a county. There are 331 Baronies in Ireland. A Barony can cross county lines.
Civil Parishes: There are 2508 of them in Ireland and they also do not follow county lines.
Townlands: There are over 60,000 and some have the same names. Despite their name they may not contain towns. People identified closely with their townland or village and they are often the most specific address available for rural dwellers.
Cities, Towns & Boroughs : Cities contain Boroughs and/or wards. Some towns have several parishes and some parishes have several towns!
Poor Law Unions: Also known as Superintendent Registrar's Districts, there are 163 unions that are independent to any previously set up division in Ireland. Under the Poor Relief Act of 1838, Ireland was divided into unions in which the local taxable inhabitants were to be financially responsible for all paupers in the area. In 1898 the Poor Law Union was adopted as the basic administrative division in place of the civil parish and barony. Further subdivision into 828 registration districts and 3,751 district electoral divisions followed.
Dispensary District: A subdivision of Poor Unions, later known as Registrarís District.
Archdioceses: There are four of these that are similar to the provinces.
Diocese: 22 dioceses within the four archdioceses.
Parish: Diocese are subdivided into parishes. Civil Parishes and Parishes do NOT always have the same boundaries.