Monday 2 June 2014

IGRS launches online 1901 Index to Townlands

Unlike the widely available 1851 Index,
the 1901 Index to Townlands includes
District Electoral Divisions
The Irish Genealogical Research Society has launched a searchable 1901 Index to Townlands on its website,

It's the first time the 1901 Index – a key resource for identifying all land divisions in Ireland ‐ has been made available in an online database and genealogists will find it incredibly useful to their research.

The new database can be used to either locate a particular townland and the various land divisions it forms part of, or to identify the names of all townlands which fall into a given District Electoral Division (DED) or Civil Parish.

There are just over 64,000 townlands in Ireland. They are Ireland's most basic - and ancient - land divisions, measuring from just a few acres to several hundred. From the mid-19th century, just before the period of the Great Hunger, Irish land divisions became standardised through the introduction of the Poor Law System in 1838. Although the Poor Law was abandoned in the 1920s, the same system of land division is still in use to this day.

Given that the first Index to Townlands - published in conjunction with the 1851 Census of Ireland - did not note DEDs, the 1901 edition is all the more valuable because it records the DED number required to access data from the 1901 census returns, the earliest complete census for Ireland.

Speaking exclusively to Irish Genealogy News prior to the launch, IGRS chairman Steven Smyrl said: “This 1901 Index of Townlands joins a steadily growing number of resources being made available to all Irish family historians – whether or not they are members of the IGRS – through the Society's website. It will be of tremendous help to all Irish genealogists for years to come and is another example of how the IGRS is fulfilling its mission to facilitate the sharing of knowledge and provide access to some of its extensive archives.

Two IGRS members from Australia prepared the data for this unique resource
"Genealogists often need help identifying the townland of their ancestors. Often they have only a partial or guessed spelling. This database can be searched with incomplete placenames.

"In addition, researchers will be able to establish the names of the townlands surrounding a particular place; this was not possible with the original hardcopy of the Index."

The Index of Townlands database can be searched here.

A helpful 'Search Hints & Tips' section is also available from the search page to assist researchers in identifying the locality on a set of maps dating from 1935. In addition, Ordnance Survey Map numbers are noted.

The new database has been created from the hard work of two IGRS members, the historian Dr Perry McIntyre and genealogist Terry Eakin, both of whom live in Australia. They spent two years carefully inputting all of the data from the original 1901 hardcopy publication.