The article below appeared in the Summer 2021 edition of Irish Lives Remembered. We would like to thank the editor, Patrick Roycroft, for featuring the relaunch of CavanTownlands in this highly respected publication.
‘The significance of the Irish townland as an analytical tool for the genealogist and local historian with an introduction and overview of CavanTownlands.com.’
The format of the talk falls into 3 parts. Part 1 poses the question ‘What is a townland?’ and provides a summarised history of the Irish Townland from earliest records to the present day. Part 2 introduces the website in a series of short video clips which describe how to go about using the website to best advantage in terms of searching for that townland of interest and a brief overview of content on the site. Part 3 delves further into the unique sources of data available on the site and gives some words of caution when using the National Archives website for genealogical research. The talk lasts 45 minutes.
We would like to thank Paula Jones, Shane Wilson, John Goggins and all at The Genealogical Society of Ireland for providing the opportunity to make this presentation. You can visit the GSI website here GSI
This short video provides a brief overview of content on the site and will guide you on how best to use the search facility to track down your townland of interest
This video will give you an overview of the content in the Library section
This video provides a quick introduction to the Map collection
Guide to the location and navigation of the digitised images on the FamilySearch (LDS) website.
The lists of tenant names which we provide on this website have been scraped from the National Archives website. Unfortunately the indexation and classification of the records for this particular dataset on the NAI site are notoriously misleading and incorrect on a number of levels. Prior to the mapping of the country by the Ordnance Survey (Cavan was first mapped over the years 1835-1836) there was no standardised and approved list of townland names. Even a slight variation in spelling will turn up a negative result and a significant number of townland names were either transcribed incorrectly or the names do not match the approved accepted version. We suspect about 75% of the records are concealed due to these errors. What we present in our tables is a listing of tenant names which we have re-indexed by parish and townland. We believe this is correct to about 95% accuracy for townlands which were surveyed. Note the parish of Drung has not been transcribed and is missing from this dataset. We have not checked each individual surname entry and the only way to ensure accuracy is to view the original photographed TAB pages which can be viewed on the FamilySearch website. Access here requires signing up for an account but this is free. These images also provide details on the tenants landholdings and the taxation valuations which were applied to each plot.
It should also be pointed out that, although it only applies to a few parishes, some of the records are duplicated or triplicated as the survey was updated every few years. These books, which were typically an exact copy of the previous year, ended up being transcribed and added to the collection. Thus in the parish of Annagelliff you will find entries for four years, although this is an exception. In some instances the same individual has been given an alternate spelling of surname so checking the original photographs is crucial in avoiding errors. In rare instances we have found changes in leaseholder due to death or other cause and this can be a very interesting find for the genealogical fraternity.
The table below provides an index to the images of the original TAB which can be viewed on the LDS FamilySearch website. Searching directly by Cavan on this website results in the same flawed outcome achieved using the NAI site but the list below which we have prepared will guide the uninitiated to the core images which represent the true archive which is available, albeit well concealed. You will find some entries indexed under counties Meath, Down, Cork, Fermanagh, Leitrim and Mayo so the limitations are obvious. Also, a number of parishes have been grouped into one record and these are listed below. The FamilySearch website is the best place to view the images as the search facility by image on the NAI site is very cumbersome and limited to pdf files only. The FamilySearch website provides thumbnail images of the original pages as photographed and these are relatively easy to navigate with the index provided in the table which we have summarised below:
|Parish||Listed in County||Years listed||Records on image nos.||Index on Page No.|
|Down||1833 +2||Mixed |
|Cavan||1828/29||8-97 of 142 total images|
|Enniskeen||Meath||1827||38-100 of 140||136|
|Cavan||1832/33 +1||All 119||49-51, |
|Castlekyran, Co. Cork||1829||All 22||20|
|Templeport||Cavan||1825 +1||All 412||189, 400|
|Urney* (see Annagelliff also: 95-108. Index 81)||Cavan||1828||All 27||24|
For those of you wishing to use this site to trace your family roots, here are a few tips on how to search by name.
There are currently five sets of data containing names of individuals, each of which is separately (but easily) searchable. The records are presented in a grid and each column of the grid can be filtered instantaneously. For example, if you are researching the 1841 Census data for the name “Reilly”, you can start typing some characters in the Surname column heading and the records are filtered as you type. There are several variations of “Reilly” in the data – “O’Reilly”, “Reilly”, “Riley”, “Reilley” – to name a few. By entering any sequence of characters in the name, the list will be filtered accordingly. You can quickly experiment with different sequences – “rei”, “ril”, “ley”, etc. to see the matches. The image below shows some of the results for a filter on Townland=”arvagh” and Surname=”eil”. As you can see, the results include several variations. This capability provides an advantage over the National Archives search function which is much slower and requires the use of wild cards to get the same result.
You can search each of the four datasets by clicking on the buttons below, or from the Main Menu > Civil Records > dropdown menu.
Commonwealth Survey of 1652 – 2,201 records
This dataset includes the names of the landowners only. There are a few exceptions where tenants’ names are included. These appear in the barony of Tullyhaw and include the parishes of Drumreilly, Killinagh, Kinawley, Templeport and Tomregan.
Tithe Applotment Books of 1832 – 30,636 records
This dataset includes the names of the tenants.
Census of 1821 – 80,736 records
This is the earliest census available and records are available for 17 of the 36 counties.
Killashandra Census of 1841 – 15,439 records
This is a rich source of data with records for all individuals living in Killashandra in 1841, those deceased in the previous ten years and in many cases, data for those who had emigrated.
Griffith’s Valuation of 1857 – 28,769 records
This dataset includes the names of the tenants.