Irish Historic Maps unveiled an online map archive at the recent conference of the U.S. Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS). The database includes details of every town, street, and farm on the Emerald Isle dating back nearly 200 years. This is a treasure trove for those tracing their Irish ancestry.
For 5 euros a day, roughly $6.40 U.S., computer users can access images of more than 30,000 maps of Irish localities dating back to 1824. Users can search the database by zooming in on maps, or using key terms, to pinpoint where their relatives once lived. The database offers details about 19th century life in Irish neighborhoods: individual plots of land, cemeteries, schools, hospitals, businesses, factories, wells -- even trees and bushes are mapped out.
The first public demonstration of the project was held at a reception at the beginning of last week's FGS conference. "These maps represent the world's first large-scale [historical] mapping of an entire country," said Malachy McVeigh , senior operations manager at Ireland's Ordnance Survey Ireland, an Irish government agency that owns and operates the database.
Mary E. Choppa , president of The Irish Ancestral Research Association, based in Boston, said an Irish genealogy search often begins with the county in Ireland, which many families know or can easily find out. Then, they must narrow the search using US immigration records, church records, and other data to locate an ancestral town or, better yet, a neighborhood or a street. But often, old addresses and farms, and even streets, no longer exist on current maps.
The online maps, however, can lead people to the locations of their ancestors' dwellings and provide details about the life they might have led.
"The maps are so detailed, you can see where their church was, where their house was, what their surroundings were," said Choppa, who last year used just such a map to trace her family to the town of Carriv in County Armagh. "It's sort of an emotional connection. . . . It's a connection with the past."
The Ordnance Survey team painstakingly scanned the maps, most of them in storage at Trinity College, the National Library of Ireland, and the Royal Irish Academy, all in Dublin. The maps span two eras, from 1824 to 1847, and from 1888 to 1913.
This could save you a lot of money if you're going to come to Ireland to search for your roots.
You can see examples of the maps at http://www.irishhistoricmaps.ie/historic/sample.html
For more information, look at http://www.irishhistoricmaps.ie/historic