We now have more detailed Irish historical maps

We are continuing to improve our coverage of Ireland.

Up to now, the only historical mapping was what we have for more or less the whole of Europe: 1:500,000 maps published by the British General Staff Geographical Survey in the 1940s. These show towns but few villages.

We have now added to the web site A Vision of Britain through Time  more detailed maps at 1:126,720 scale, or two miles-to-one inch. These were also published by the British military in the 1940s,  but were based not on an aerial survey but on scaling down One Inch maps published by the Ordnance Survey in 1899-1914 — so our mapping is really of late nineteenth century Ireland, following construction of the railway network.

Detail from GSGS 4127 showing Dublin

Detail from GSGS 4127 showing Dublin

We have built a continuous mosaic from these sheets and used it to extend the most detailed layer within our “20th century” mapping, which holds our New Popular one inch maps of Great Britain, so you can access these maps by simply zooming in further on Irish locations. The twenty-five individual map sheets can be accessed in the usual way within our map library, i.e. by scrolling down when the mosaic viewer is zoomed in on a relevant location, then clicking on the sheet thumbnail.

This Irish work is unfunded, but so far we include:

  • Descriptive gazetteer entries: 3,939 detailed entries from Lewis’s Topographical Dictionary of Ireland (1837), plus 8,189 shorter Irish entries from Bartholomew’s Gazetteer of the British Isles (1887).
  • Travel writers: Camden, Head’s Home Tour of the UK and both the Wesley’s visit Ireland — but they are not currently linked into Irish “places”.
  • Administrative units: We currently include four provinces, thirty-two counties, 163 Irish poor law unions, 326 baronies and 24 recent Northern Ireland constituencies.
  • Administrative boundaries: for all Irish counties, and most baronies.
  • Historical statistics: 1,518 data values, all being nineteenth century Farm Census data for Irish counties.
  • Places: Forty-one have been defined so far, covering the counties and a few others needed to make Northern Ireland constituency data accessible.

We have access to a great deal more Irish statistical data computerised for the Database of Irish Historical Statistics, but generating the additional DDI metadata required is what absolutely requires substantial funding. For now, our aim is primarily to create a comprehensive gazetteer of places and units. The next step will be adding parishes and townlands as more detailed administrative geographies from an 1850s listing, and then we will systematically define more “places” to link everything together.

Humphrey Southall

About Humphrey Southall

Director, Great Britain Historical GIS; Reader in Geography, University of Portsmouth
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