Researching the Revision Books at the Valuation Office or PRONI
The Valuation Office in Dublin is located in the Irish Life Centre on Abbey Street Lower. It is one of my favorite locations to visit as it contains the Revision Books that follow Griffith’s Valuation for the Republic. The books for the six counties of Northern Ireland were sent to PRONI (more on that later).
Remember that Griffith’s Valuation was a tax list and therefore it had to be kept up to date so the government would know who owed the taxes. Every few years the valuators would go back to each tenement to confirm that their information was correct. They would go with manuscript books which contained the handwritten information from Griffith’s (or the last valuation revision). If there were any changes they would cross out the old information and write in the new information. On each visit, they would use a different color ink and typically the date (year) of the visit was noted in the far right column. Sometimes you'll find a page at the beginning of each book listing the dates and the corresponding ink colors. If a person’s name is crossed out it likely means that some type of life event has occurred…a death or possibly an emigration. Sometimes the individual might have leased a different piece of property so read through the entire townland. Since our ancestors typically lived in the same place for generations the property might have moved to a spouse, a child or an in-law. In some localities these books continued up until the 1990s. It’s exciting to find that that property your ancestor lived on is still in the family. That’s the case with my Moughty, Daly and Martin families.
If your ancestor was in Ireland at the time of Griffith’s Valuation make sure you take a copy of Griffith’s page with you to the Valuation Office. You’ll need to know the County, the Parish and the Townland. In the past, the research was in the original books. The valuators would use a book until there were too many changes, then copy the latest information into a new book and start the process over again. Eventually, the books were bound together in a volume with the oldest book in the back. If you are working with the original books, you begin with the earliest volume for the area turn it over and work from the back to the front.
Over the past few years they have begun to digitize these books. So far, the following have been digitized: Carlow, Cavan, Clare, Cork City & County, Donegal, Dublin City & County, Galway, Kerry, Kildare, Kilkenny, Limerick City & County, Mayo, Meath, Monaghan, Offaly, Roscommon, Sligo, Tipperary and Wexford. The digitized books can be viewed on the computers in the Valuation Office (they are not online). Whether you are working in the original books, or with the digital images, you can photograph the pages with your phone or a camera. The Valuation Office also has the original Ordnance Survey Maps.
Age matters here. If your ancestor left Ireland as a teenager, they would not be listed in Griffith’s…the listing would likely be in the name of the leaseholder, probably his father (or mother), so keep that in mind. Also, if you know that the emigration occurred prior to Griffith’s being done where your ancestor lived (dates by county), or if the family emigrated as a group, look for others in the area with the same surname. It is highly possible that they were related. For my Johnston research, I plan to follow a number of families from Griffith’s in Rossinver parish in Leitrim (not yet digitized). On one of my very early trips to Ireland in the 1990s, I visited the Valuation Office (which at the time was in the basement of a row house off St. Stephen's Green). Not having any idea what I was doing, I did get a picture of the maps of where my Johnston and Mackay ancestors were located, but I didn’t know to follow the property.
So what about the books for the six counties of Northern Ireland. As I said above, these were sent to PRONI and you are in luck! Those books have been digitized and are available on the PRONI website. You can do your research before you go to Ireland.
In Northern Ireland, however, the books only go to about 1930. After that, you will need to use the Grantor Books from the Land Registry. Here’s a blog written by one of the Belfast attendees in 2014 about the process. At the time we visited the Land Registry Office, but the records prior to 1990 are now at PRONI.
To prepare for your visit to the Valuation Office (or your online research at PRONI) take a look at the Griffith’s Valuation research you have already done and identify your ancestor. If you have multiple possibilities and are not sure, make a note of those individuals you wish to search. By following the property and seeing when the occupier changes, you may be able to confirm if this is your ancestor. If the individual is still there after your ancestor emigrated, they might be related, but not your direct family. Depending on the date when Griffith’s was completed, you may be able to research the families in church or civil records, and in the 1901 and 1911 census. When the name changes, look for a death or emigration record.
Patrick Thompson and Bryan Mughty appear together leasing property in Ballynahinch, Parish of Cashel in Longford. In the Revision Book, I check the index for Ballynahinch and I find the page number where the Townland begins. Again, there are multiple books...the image above covers the book from the late 1870s to the 1880s. The original entry shows the same information as appears in Griffith's (done about 1854). In 1882 Patrick Thompson is crossed out and Daniel Delaney is written in. A check of the civil registration indexes at IrishGenealogy.ie, shows that Patrick Thompson, 73, a widower died 29 May 1881. I'd have to do additional research to see if there is a connection between Patrick Thompson and Daniel Delaney. I also checked the 1901 census and Daniel Delaney appears in Ballynahinch with his family. Here’s a link to a blog from John Grenham discussing how to find the precise date from the online databases. Note that the actual valuation might have been done earlier as the date you are seeing here is the date of publication.
So here are the items on my to do list (so far) for the Valuation Office.
As is the case with most repositories, the Valuation Office is currently working under COVID protocols and an appointment is required. Check the status before your visit.
Happy Hunting and Stay Safe.
I always appreciate comments on my blogs, especially when they provide additional information or corrections (things change and I haven't been in Ireland since 2019). Last week Chris Paton commented that there are multiple terminals at PRONI, but you can also visit the GRONI office. Dara Givens let me know that the cost of the registrations at the GRO in Dublin has increased to €5 and you can also order them via email. Thanks!
Are you thinking about a research trip to Ireland? I have two scheduled for 2022...on in May and one in October. Information and registration information is here.