Estate Maps and how they can help with genealogy..

Overlooked by many, maps can often be very useful to a genealogist.  Estate maps frequently give a list of tenants and while a name is often all that it is recorded with the amount of land held, for someone tracing their family in a specific area a map can be definitive proof that they were living there at a certain time. Invariably the cartographer will have dated the map so the year will be definitive.  In maps predating Griffith’s, if you can place your ancestor in a map you may also determine who their neighbours were and possibly other relations given that people usually married within their parish.There are a number of maps online, including some of the Longfield map collection held at the National Library of Ireland These maps date from 1770-1840 and cover all of Ireland with the exception of county Kerry.  A large proportion of the 1,671 maps are related to Dublin city and county but for instance we can see in a map of the townland of Ballymore in the barony of Rathconrath, county Westmeath, tenants such as John Kearny who held a house and garden of 3 roods and 14 perches and Thomas Metcalf who had two gardens, a house, tillage and meadow over 7 acres.

Estate maps are held in other archives including the National Archives who have for instance maps pertaining to the Pembroke estate in Dublin.  Mayo County Library have digitised maps for the Lynch-Blosse Estate in the barony of Clanmaurice, county, county Mayo.  We can see on a beautifully detailed and coloured map of the ‘Town and Parks of Balla’ dated 1811-  the Fair Green, Burial Gound and an accompanying list of tenants.

Maps are a snapshot in time – they can tell you how far your ancestors had to travel to the nearest church, they can record local place-names that by the mid-19th century have fallen out of use. They are just one more very useful picking tool at the coalface that is tracing your Irish ancestors.

By Expert Researcher,

Helen Moss


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