The Parliamentary Gazetteer of Ireland was published in Dublin, London and Edinburgh by A Fullerton & Co., in 1846 and remains the only parliamentary gazetteer that wholly and perhaps uniquely treats on the thirty-two counties of Ireland. The Gazetteer was published at a critical point in Ireland's history, which is intimated in its typically verbose Victorian subtitle: 'Adapted to the new Poor-Law, Franchise, Municipal and Ecclesiastical Arrangements and Compiled with a special reference to the Lines of Railroad and Canal Communications as existing in 1844-5. Complete with maps and plates and presenting the results, in detail of the Census of 1841, compared with that of 1831'. Published the year before the first annual report of the Commissioners of the Poor Law in Ireland and the onset of the Great Famine, The Gazetteer in more than 2,000 pages presents in considerable detail a country on the cusp of huge and irrevocable administrative and social change. While Samuel Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, published in 1837, is for many a more accessible and identifiable topographical dictionary of Ireland, The Parliamentary Gazetteer of Ireland provides more substantive statistical information and is perhaps a superior publication in both and breadth. Unlike Lewis, which treated on the cities, civil parishes and main post towns of Ireland in some 1,500 pages, The Gazetteer also treats on minor geographical features, such as small streams and manmade structures, such as bridges, harbours and ferries; some of the latter were only in their developmental stages and never actually came to fruition. The Gazetteer details many small villages and for each provides the statistical information as delineated in the 1831 and 1841 Censuses of Ireland abstracts, useful in tracing the demographic change - either growth or decline - of many of Ireland's smaller hamlets prior to The Famine. Without consulting the full Census of Ireland Abstracts, The Gazetteer provides the most comprehensive statistical analysis for Ireland to a general readership, which it happily combines with interesting anecdotal and topographical detail. For many of the larger urban areas, provinces and provincial towns and cities a brief history of the area's settlement and historical events of note are provided. Of importance are some of the more abstract detail provided, such as the derivation and location of Ireland's ancient principalities. An example of this is Dalriada, which The Gazetteer notes was situated on the east coast of the Province of Ulster. Although the name had fallen-out of usage by the mid-seventeenth-century, The Gazetteer deemed the history of the name and principality worth half a page of commentary, although it admits that its treatise raised more questions than it answered. The Parliamentary Gazetteer is presented in an alphabetical format and includes a thorough index. The current digital version is fully-searchable and allows that reader to search for names of individuals - such as the occupants of gentlemen's seats, parish priests and the like - as well as smaller geographical and manmade structures not recorded in the original's index.
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