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Ancestral Atlas, Nick  Francis

Ancestral Atlas

What do the Irish maps show?
For those involved with Irish genealogy our Irish Townland maps are the most important map collection ever published. Surveyed between 1829 and 1843, the maps are packed with detail and are of superb quality and craftsmanship.

The maps were originally produced as an instrument of taxation - the British government of the time wanted to know who owned or lived on what land and therefore how much tax they should pay. In order to do this, every Townland had to be measured and recorded, and its area calculated. The British Army Corps of Engineers was assigned the task of surveying the land. Skilled and experienced in the creation of maps used by the British Army, these men were members of an ordnance (military weapons) unit of the Engineers - hence the name "Ordnance Survey Maps".

The owners and occupiers of all the land in the Townlands were then recorded, together with their professions, and collated into an accompanying register called the "General Valuation of Rateable Property in Ireland" - also commonly referred to nowadays as "The Griffith's Valuation", since the whole exercise of collation was overseen by a man called Sir Richard Griffith.

The maps show the boundaries of every Townland, Civil Parish, Barony and County throughout Ireland, together with the areas of each Townland indicated on the maps in Acres, Rods and Perches - a rod is a quarter of an acre; a perch is a fortieth of a rod.

Each map sheet was originally hand-engraved and then printed. The Townland, Parish, Barony and County boundaries were then meticulously marked on the maps by hand with water-colour paint. Other, pertinent details were also highlighted this way, such as rivers, canals, coastlines and on some of the maps, administrative areas.

The Six-Inch Townland maps were published at a scale of 1:10,560. This means that each inch on the map represents 10,560 inches on the ground - which is 880 feet, or 1/6th of a mile. Put another way, six inches on the map is equivalent to 1 mile on the ground - hence the name "Six-Inch Map". This "scale" allows a great deal of information to be recorded, including most man-made and natural features.

We've now created a seamless layer covering the whole of Northern and Southern Ireland so you can view exactly where your ancestors lived.

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