Video of presentation to The Genealogical Society of Ireland on Townlands including an overview of content on 12th October 2021

Video of presentation to The Genealogical Society of Ireland on Townlands including an overview of content on 12th October 2021

‘The significance of the Irish townland as an analytical tool for the genealogist and local historian with an introduction and overview of’

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

Census of 1821

Census of 1821

This is the earliest census of Cavan to be completed and c.80,000 individual records listing entire families are available to search. Cavan researchers are fortunate that a significant proportion of the 1821 census has survived. The records cover 17 of the 36 civil parishes of county Cavan and provide a complete listing of all individuals residing in those parishes. The returns include name, age, sex, occupation and home townland. The NAI has made available these records on their website but many of the indexation and transcription issues previously encountered with the Tithe Applotment Book records (1832) also apply here. Even more unusual is the fact that a search on the NAI site will produce duplicate records for each original entry. We have established that two sets of photographs were taken of each original enumerator return page. The duplicate photographs were transcribed in full and the results, which do not always match, were combined and uploaded as a single record. Of the 160,000 records presented we had to use our best judgement to decide what we felt were the most accurate transcriptions and whittle the 160,000 names down to the correct figure of c.80,000 individuals. This work also involved the re-indexation of the townland names to their correct Logainm classification and the compiling of this new dataset into a usable document. Note we have not attempted to update the surname transcriptions which, unfortunately, are not very reliable in many instances. We recommend that any records encountered be verified by cross checking with the original photographed records which can be viewed on the NAI site. You can now search the census records by filtering parish, townland, surname, first name, occupation etc. The search engine supports predictive text which makes searching easier too.

Use the filter at the top of each column to reduce the data. The Parish filter presents the list of 17 parishes, selectable by dropdown. You can filter on the Townland, Surname, Forename, Occupation and Relation to Head by entering any sequence of characters within the text. Bear in mind that names which have been transcribed are often misspelt. Results are filtered as you type.

Townlands preceded with a * are transcriptions that could not be matched to a current townland. Please bear with us as page loading may be a bit slow due to the number of records. This data is best viewed on a desktop with a big screen.

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Killashandra Census 1841 – Chloropleths

Killashandra Census 1841 – Chloropleths

Here we visualise some of the data from the 1841 census of Killashandra. Hover over a townland to display its name. Click on a townland to get more details on its status in 1841.

Note that we have not included the urban populations of Killashandra Town and Arvagh Town in these chloropleths. Populations for surrounding townlands may be thin as the data are recorded with respect to the town and not to the townland.

Population Density

For each townland, we show the the total population who were present divided by the area of the townland in hectares.

Life Expectancy

Households were asked to name all the occupants who had died since the last census, including their year of death and age at which they died. The chloropleth shows the average age of death for the deceased population in each townland.

Literacy Levels

The chloropleth shows a literacy score for the present population, aged 12 years and over, in each townland. Households were asked to enter for each occupant “Read”, “Read and Write” or “Cannot Read”. The actual responses were much more numerous than these three possibilities, but we derived one of the three possible values from the given response. (A small proportion – 1% – of values could not be ascertained and were designated “Unknown” and omitted from the analysis). We assigned a score of 1 to “Read”, 2 to “Read and Write” and 0 to “Cannot Read” and calculated the average score for the designated population.

School Attendance

The chloropleth shows the percentage of children who were attending school from the population who were present and aged between 4 and 12. Households were asked to enter the occupation of each occupant, or in the case of children, to say whether they attended school.

Searching Tithe Applotment Books

Searching Tithe Applotment Books

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:

ParishListed in CountyYears listedRecords on image nos.Index on Page No.
AnnaghCavan1824/5All 182 148
BallymachughCavan1824All 139
CastlerahanCavan1831All 10081-84
CastleterraCavan1826All 35
CrosserloughCavan1828All 4334-36
DennCavan1827All 3829-30
(see Drumgooland)
Down1833 +2Mixed
53,117, 184
(see Drumgoon)
Cavan1828/298-97 of 142 total images
DrumlummanCavan1824All 2416
EnniskeenMeath182738-100 of 140136
KildallanMeath1835All 7765-68
Cavan1832/33 +1All 11949-51,
KillashandraCavan1832All 704-7
KillinaghCavan1833All 39No
KillinkereCavan1833All (mixed)No
KinawleyFermanagh/Cavan1825Index only8-26
KnockbrideCavan1827All 4032-33
LarahCavan1833/34 +2All
LaveyCavan1833All 74
Castlekyran, Co. Cork1829All 2220
(map 21)
(see Bailieborough)
(see Killinkere)
Cavan1833All (mixed)No
(see Lurgan)
ScrabbyCavan?All 1311
ShercockCavan1825All 2515
TempleportCavan1825 +1All 412189, 400
TomreganFermanagh1827All 47
Urney* (see Annagelliff also: 95-108. Index 81)Cavan1828All 2724
Index to FamilySearch images

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Search by Name

Search by Name

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.

1841 Census of Killashandra

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.

Breiffne Antiquarian and Historical Society Journal

Breiffne Antiquarian and Historical Society Journal

Published between 1920 and 1933 these journals are essential reading and an invaluable source of information pertaining to the Cavan/Breifne region. Available courtesy of Cavan County Council Library Services, who must be commended for this tremendous undertaking. The Journals are set out below in chronological order in flip-book format which should assist in navigating the documents with ease.

Click on image below for full list of contents:

Also see: Guide to the Breiffne Antiquarian and Historical Society Journal by Jonathan A. Smyth in Breifne, 2011.

1920 Vol. 1 No. 1

Sources or Information
Reports of Meetings
The Inaugural Lecture. By F. Bigger, Esq, MRIA,
A Popular Antiquarian Society. By R.V. Walker, Esq., BA.
Historical Notes on Virginia and Lough Ramor. By Philip O’Connell, Esq., M.Sc.
Exhibits at June Meeting
Illustration of Local Seals
The Legend of Conall Cernach. By Miss M.E. Dobbs, FRSAI
Cavan Members in the Irish Parliament 1–Seventeenth Century. By T. S. Smyth Esq.
Exhibits at the November Meeting
The Episcopal Succession in the Diocese of Kiimore, 1356-1560. By Dr. Grattan Flood, KSG.
Books on Leitrim History
A Big Day in Belturbet
The Battle of Cavan
Cromwell in Cavan
Muff and its Fair
Tuaim Drecuin
Ancient Crosses in Breifny
Notes on Histories of Families
Breifnian Articles
Two O’Reilly Tombs and a Problem
Book Review
Literary Notes
Obituary Notice
List of Members
Rules of the Society
Statement of Accounts, 1920

Heart of Breifne

Heart of Breifne

Heart of Breifne contents 1978-1987

Heart of Breifne 1978


Map of Parish.


Larah Parish: I gCeartlár Sliagh na nDee by Thomas J. Barron.

Priests who worked in Upper Larah by Terence Cunningham.

Matchmaking and marriage in Co. Cavan in the late nineteenth century by Anna Sexton.

Townland names in the parish of Larah by Liam Ó Ceallaigh.

Sean McCarthy memorial by Sean Lee.

“Ten miles from everywhere in the middle of nowhere” by Aileen McEvoy.

Hedge Schools in Larah by Áine Bean Uí Shiadhail.

Father Bernard Donnelly – A pioneer in Kansas City by Vincent Duffy.

The Architecture of Mid-Cavan by Patrick Shaffrey.

The 1833 Arms Register for Co. Cavan by William G. Coleman

The Hackler from Grousehall by Anna Sexton.

Larah, An extract from A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland by Samuel Lewis 1837

Larah P.T.A.A. variety group, photo.

Seachrán by Fiachra Mhic Bhradaigh.

Larah G.F.C. photographs

Heart of Breifne 1979


Map of Parish.


Townland names in the Parish of Lavey by Liam Ó Cealaigh.

Thatching – a dying art by Filmín Nic Chionna.

Craftsmanship and artistic expression by Aileen McEvoy.

The stream that flows into Loch Ramor by Thomas Smith.

Pat Dolan and Grousehall by Thomas J. Barron.

Contemporay ballads on Pat Dolan and the Molly Maguires by Thomas J. Barron.

Drumnaveagh National School, Lavey by Terence Cunningham.

An emigrant’s letter.

The Decay of Irish in Tullaghgarvey in the nineteenth century by Brian Ó Mórdha.

Death and burial in Co. Cavan in the late nineteenth century by Anna Sexton.

Filíocht by Bernard McDonagh.

Bailieborough – and echoes from the Year of the French by Thomas J. Barron.

“I remember, I remember” by Áine Bean Uí Shiadhail.

Heart of Breifne 1980


Map of Larah.


Fiachra Mac Bradaigh: Poet and scribe of central Cavan by Séamus P. Ó Mórdha.

Burrowes of Stradone House by Terence Cunningham.

The Last Harpers – and Breifne by Liam P. Ó Caithnia.

The exit of Protestant settlers from Co. Cavan in 1642 by Thomas J. Barron.

An Irish farmhouse at the beginning of the century by Anna Sexton.

Townland names in the Parish of Killinkere by Liam Ó’Ceallaigh.

Hearth Money Rolls 1664, Killinkeare parish

The hills of Killinkere.

Bailieborough – and echoes from from the year of the French: a postscript by Thomas J. Barron.

The Old I.R.A.: some Cavan memories

I.   Réamhrá

II.  The War of Independence: Memories by Dan McDonald

III. Memories of the struggle for Irish freedom by Seán Lee

IV.  Eoghan Ó Raghallaigh as An Srath Domhain

V.   Cumann Na mBan.

Heart of Breifne 1981


Map of Larah.


Fairy legends and beliefs of East Cavan by Bairbre Ni Fhloinn.

The man from Barnagrove by Antóin Mac Gabhann.

Townland names in the parish of Castlerahan and Munterconnaught by Liam Ó Cheallaigh.

Memories of ’47 by Tony Tighe.

The Castle at Ballynacargy by Seamus P. Mórdha.

An old Co. Cavan farmhouse by Filmín Nic Chionna.

Housing conditions in Tullaghgarvey in 1841 by Brian Ó Mórdha.

Poitín by Aine Ní Sheasnain.

Aspects of Cavan’s Postal History by Máiread Reynolds.

William Percy French’s associations with Cavan by T.S. Smyth.

Alexander McWhidd c. 1610-c.1690 by Thomas J. Barron.

Memories by Mrs Jenny Whyte.

Laragh N.S. 1928. photo

Heart of Breifne 1982



Wedgwood’s man by Máiréad Reynolds.

On Not keeping up with the Jones’s by W.H. Byers.

Down the village street by Lochlynn Mac Glynn.

Tullyco schoolchildren 1929 or 30 (Photograph).

Sidelights on some Famine Landlords by Terence Cunningham.

Townland names of Crosserlough by Liam Ó Ceallaigh.

Traditions that existed in my grandmother’s house by Padraic Colum.

Kids stuff by Bairbre Uí Floinn.

Eamonn De Valera – his visits to Cavan by Liam Ó Ceallaigh.

Traditional medicine by Aine Ní Sheasnain.

Emigration from Co. Cavan in 19th Century by Thomas J. Barron.

Heart of Breifne 1983



Breifne’s twenty five years of glory by Eddie Brady.

Culture: Irish culture by Brian S. Ó Mórdha.

Altbeagh cottage & Ravenswood by Terence Cunningham.

Greaghagaron School c.1947 (Photograph).

An Ghaeilge – Irish words used in the English of Co. Cavan by Pádraig Ó Corbaidh.

Snippets from Drumgoon by Brother Eunan Bannon.

Folklore from Larah by Bairbre Ní Fhloinn.

Father O’Flanagan’s suppressed speech.

List of stockists.

Townland names in parish of Killann by Liam Ó Ceallaigh.

Rats: Palindromes: Symbols by Aine Ní Sheasháin.

Emigration from Co. Cavan in the nineteenth century by Thomas J. Barron.

How Lough Gowna got its name by Frank Columb.

Religious and political agitation in Co. Cavan 1822 – 1829 by Máiréad Nic an Ghoill.

Heart of Breifne 1984



Ordnance survey: Statistical reports on parishes: Drumgoon by Brian S. Ó Mórdha.

Historic Knockbride: A May Day visit by Bridie M. Smith-Brady.

Townland names in the parish of Knockbride by Liam Ó Ceallaigh.

Ross Mac Cabe and some of his comtemporaries by S.P. Ó Mórdha.

Markets and fairs in county Cavan by W.H. Crawford.

Some local lore on fairs by Áine Ní Sheasnáin.

Fom Redhills to Lough Sheelin: Two songs with Cavan connections by S.P. Ó Mórdha.

Joseph Biggar, the Honourable Member for Cavan by Fred Heatley.

A German clockmaker by Terence Cunningham.

Religious and political agitation in Co. Cavan 1822-1829 by Máiread Nic an Ghoill.

Dhá Dhán i nGaelige by Pascal Mac Gabhann.

An exile reflects by Jenny Whyte.

Memoir of Owen Peter Mangan, 1838-1924 by Thomas J. Barron.

Heart of Breifne 1985



A hiring fair in Cootehill by Harry Bradshaw.

The old hedge school by James Dunnery.

Memoir of Owen Peter Mangan 1838-1924 by Thomas J. Barron.

A county Cavan version of a narrative song by Seamus P. Ó Mórdha.

An early map of County Cavan by Thomas J. Barron.

Haymaking in Ireland by Jonathan Bell.

Haymaking – County Cavan style by Áine Ní Sheasnáin.

Fabrique Ste-Catherine by Pierce Mulroney and Ellen Buckley.

The Canadian Prime Minister: Cavan ancestors! by Áine Ní Sheasnáin.

Townland names in the parish of Lurgan by Liam Ó Ceallaigh.

An old Longfield lease by Terence Cunningham.

The Toomregan carving by Thomas J. Barron.

Matchmaking and marriage revisited by Linda-May Ballard.

From Greaghittiagh and back by Áine Ní Sheasnáin.

Myles the Slasher and the Bridge of Finea by Brian S Ó Mórdha.

The Poem book of the Nugents by Pádraig Ó Fágain.

A Drumgoom story of 1798 by Thomas J. Barron.

A lament for Father Patrick O’Reilly by Seamus P. Ó Mórdha.

Heart of Breifne 1986



The water wheel by Padraig Ó Mórdha.

The sale of a mill by Áine Ní Sheasnáin.

The Yellow Cross by Terence Cunningham.

Killeshandra by James Dunnery.

Education in the parish of Drumgoon, 1800-1860 by Úna McGorry.

A Land War incident near Virginia by Brian McCabe.

Ordnance Survey – Statistical Reports on Parishes: Larah by Brian Ó Mórdha.

Working the bogs of Cavan by Áine Ní Sheasnáin.

Coming orange demonstration at Cootehill.

Townland names in the parish of Denn by Liam Ó Ceallaigh.

A decorated stone from a cairn on Beannú (Banagher) mountain in the Denn parish by Thomas J. Barron.

The praises of Breifne by Ríonach Uíógáin.

Joyful things by Mary Moran.

Seán Ó Cléirigh from Drung and his manuscripts Séamus P. Ó Mórdha.

An old medal by Thomas J. Barron.

Heart of Breifne 1987



Flax growing in Co. Cavan in the forties by Aine Ní Sheasháin.

Scutching of flax by Peter Smith.

Memories of hard times by Bill Reilly.

Education in the parish of Drumgoon 1800-1860, Part II by Úna McGorry.

William Clarke – the Ballybay piper by Harry Bradshaw.

Reminiscences of Muff fair by Joe Ward.

Townland names in the parish of Urney and Annageliff by Liam Ó Ceallaigh.

Historic Kildrumsherdan by Bridie M. Smith.

Kingscourt and its locality by Thomas J. Barron.

Traditional herbal cures in county Cavan by Beatrice Maloney.

Herbs for Health.

The story of John Longmore.

Signs of rain.

Clonosey graveyard and friary ruins by Jude McGorry.

Postal history by T. S. Smyth.

Bunnoe Mill.

1976 Breifne article by Rev. Gerard Alwill on the 1841 Killeshandra census

1976 Breifne article by Rev. Gerard Alwill on the 1841 Killeshandra census

Thanks to Brendan Scott, editor Breifne Journal, and Rev. Gerard Alwill for allowing us to reproduce this detailed study and analysis which throws great light on the contents of the 1841 census records.


The 1841 Census  was  held on  the night of 6 June  of that year. Return sheets were to be filled in that night by the  head of  each household. This  study  of the  parish of  Killeshandra was  based  on micro-film copies of the  return sheets. Most  of the return sheets have been preserved  in  good condition.  From these it is possible to construct  an accurate account of social conditions in the parish during the years before the famine. In general  we have  very  little information on social conditions in Co. Cavan for these pre-famine years. I hope that this study will make  some  small contribution in that regard.

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Brady’s of Killeshandra

Brady’s of Killeshandra

A family history over five generations by David Connolly 2019, with thanks to the author for contributing this significant work.