You might remember seeing my blogs on the Johnston family with a map showing the townlands of the various families...they all were in the same area, mostly in adjoining parishes and I have been attempting to connect them. Maps are so important to our research. If you are trying to find a marriage record for a couple married in Ireland and you find a record with the marriage in an entirely different area, you have to ask the question, how did they meet? Maps will help you see that (or perhaps you have the wrong couple). Also, if you can't find a record in the parish where you expect it, look at a map. What parishes, or even counties adjoin the area where you are searching? Have you considered the possibility that they slipped over the border. This is not true for just Ireland.
When I started my quest, my mother-in-law gave me the date and location of her marriage in Stamford, Connecticut. I had no reason to question it. However, just after she passed away, I was researching in the State Vital Records Department in Connecticut and had some extra time, so I thought I'd pull the record. To my surprise, it wasn't there. The following Sunday at a family dinner, I asked my sister-in-law. Some looks passed between her and her aunt and I said, you know I'm going to find out...what's the story. It seems that they eloped, returned to their parents homes until they were married again by a priest (this was the date and place my mother-in-law gave me). Since they were already married, they did not have a marriage license in Connecticut. The question was where did they elope to? They were back the same day, so they couldn't have gone far. Looking at a map, I found the record in Westchester County, New York, which adjoined Fairfield County, Connecticut.
A few weeks ago, Lisa Louise Cook interviewed J. Mark Lowe on her Podcast (Episode 277). Mark was discussing Gretna Greens (those places where people tended to elope) and how maps helped discover the possibilities. If you get a chance, take a listen.
So that brings me back to John Grenham. You can find lots of blogs I've written about John's website, IrishAncestors. It's the first place I go when I start researching in Ireland, and I return to it frequently. I typically start with the Civil Maps page which allows me to drill down on the County, the Civil Parish and the records available for that area. There is also a Roman Catholic Parish map (remember, the Civil and the Catholic Parishes are frequently different) and a Poor Law Union map. Earlier this summer, John enhanced his maps with color maps from the Townlands.ie open source maps. Well, now he's done it again!
Check out his blog from today. He's now taken it down to the townland level (see map above). If I had this when I created the Johnston map, I would have saved hours! You select the County, then the Civil Parish and the Townlands appear. You can drop a pin in the Townlands of interest, then if you click on the pin, it will bring up the resources page for that Civil Parish. Wow.
I frequently have trouble finding a Townland map...the one I used for the Johnston family came from the Leitrim-Roscommon website. I've also used Ros Davies' hand drawn maps for the townlands in County Down. (RosDavies.com). Elsewhere, I frequently had to create the maps from the Ordnance Survey maps (very time consuming).
So thank you, John, again for all you do!
Here's an update on last week's blog regarding Petty Session and Dog Licenses. I spent some time this week trying to find those records at PRONI for the six counties that are now part of Northern Ireland...without success. I wrote to one of the Archivists at PRONI and received the sad news that those records were likely destroyed by PRONI. Unfortunately space considerations sometimes lead archives to destroy records...maybe because they are not frequently accessed. Without the digitization of the records in the Republic by Findmypast, and the ability to search them, we probably wouldn't be using the dog licenses and petty sessions. It's a shame, but I wanted to let you know what I found, so you don't start looking for them.