Some notes on on using the maps on the Askaboutireland.ie website

This site is both free and very user-friendly. It contains a searchable database of the names of both the occupiers of holdings & houses and the immediate lessors. In addition you have access to scans of any page from any printed Griffith's Valuation book in Ireland and, perhaps most important of all, scans of the relevant six inch valuation map that accompany the printed valuation. This will allow you to locate any house and farm within any townland at that time. Note, however, that at times there can be mismatches between the map and the valuation book - more on this later. Note. also, that there are no large scale town valuation maps on the askaboutireland site.

These maps on the askaboutireland website do more than give you copies of nineteenth-century valuation maps. There are actually three maps that can be looked at separately or superimposed on each other in different combinations. There is a Google satellite map - a modern road map - and the Griffith's Valuation map - see below for more details on the Valuation maps.*

The default setup is Map highlighted and the slider in the middle of the "slide rule". This produces the Griffith's Valuation Map on your computer screen. If you change the selection in the [Map] or [Satellite] boxes and move the slider to different positions along the "slide rule" you will get different pictures on your screen ranging from a pure satellite image to a pure road map to a pure valuation map or various combinations e.g. a valuation map on top of a satellite picture - a modern road map on top of the valuation map.

So don't forget that the askaboutireland maps [through the satellite images] give you access to today's world in any locality that you are studying.

Most of us use the askaboutireland maps because they give us access to the nineteenth-century world through the valuation maps and their accompanying pages. Below you will find some screenshots relating to a search that I carried out for the townland of Seacon More which is located within the parish of Ballymoney in the Barony of Upper Dunluce in Co. Antrim. I had already found the names that I was looking for in my Griffith's database so I chose a placename search rather than a family search. Obviously if you were doing a similar search you would substitute your townland and county in the Search box. Usually I find that Townland and County are sufficient to get a positive hit. Note, however, that the spelling of the townland that you type in the search box must match, exactly, the spelling in the askaboutireland database.

When you get to the askaboutireland website you will find that the default is a FAMILY NAME SEARCH. To find Seacon More you will have to switch to a Place Name search. So, click on PLACE NAME SEARCH and when it comes up - type in Seacon in the PLACE NAME box and then choose ANTRIM in the COUNTY box - and finally click on Search. The screenshot below shows what should come up on your screen. Initially, I had typed in Seacon More but had been unsuccessful.. To have been successful I would need to type in Seacon, more.

In order to get the valuation page or pages that relate to Seacon More click on the icon below Occupants. This will take you to a page, part of which is shown below.

For copyright reasons I can go no further but it's very user-friendly - just follow the instructions. Here are a few pointers that might help.

In the screenshot immediately above it says click on the page icon to see a scan of the original document page. I usually go straight here and rarely use the Details icon. Note that there are two page icons - a smaller one and a larger one. I have come to the conclusion that it does not really matter which one you use - both allow you to print each page, zoom in and out on a page [in slightly different ways], move to the next page and the previous page which means you can search a number of townlands in an area without having to initiate a separate search for each townland.

The two Map Views icons do produce a different experience. The smaller one opens the map within the small window that is used to open the pages. I rarely use it. Instead, I prefer the larger icon which opens the map in a full, separate, window. This gives you a wider view of the maps which can make it easier to find townlands. Being Google maps you can zoom in and out. Also there is always a slider in the top right-hand corner of the map window which you can move from right to left. The default setting is in the middle. Sliding it to the left will reveal the modern-day road pattern, etc. which, if you are having difficulty finding a townland, may make it easier to get to the general area where you think the townland is located. To get back to the valuation maps, simply move the slider to the right.

Incidentally, if you just type in Co. Antrim in the County search box and Ballymoney in the Barony search box; then click on the Occupants' icon which will take you to another page; and then click on either of the two Original Page icons - this will take you to a page containing the valuation details for the townland of Garryduff which is the first townland in the Griffith's Valuation Book for the Union of Ballymoney. If you then use the "previous page" arrows within the small askaboutireland window, you can go right back to the title page in the Valuation Book which gives you the date when the book was published - in this case the 18th day of September 1861. I do this if I am looking for someone within a Poor Law Union outside the area covered by my website and I need to know the date when the Valuation Book for that Union was published.

* SOME POINTS ABOUT THE askaboutireland.ie VALUATION MAPS

According to J. H. Andrews, in his book HISTORY in the ORDNANCE MAP an introduction for Irish readers, Ordnance Survey Office, Phoenix Park, Dublin, 1974, p. 56

Although there was never more than one edition of the printed books, the information they contained was subject to periodic unpublished revision [i.e. the Revision Books]; at the same time each map was altered, and eventually replaced, to keep up with the changed boundaries and reference numbers, so that today the Valuation Office may contain some half a dozen successive versions of any given six-inch sheet. Bibliographically the most interesting of these is the edition that was lithographed in 1870-83, with base-map detail transferred from the copper plate and tenement information overprinted in orange . These litho­graphs were produced in small editions of twenty-five copies, and few people outside the Valuation Office seem to have known of their existence.

I added the note [i.e. the Revision Books].

If you trawl through the valuation maps covering the six counties of Northern Ireland on the askabout ireland website you will find that most of them are orange in colour and must, therefore, be covering the years 1870-1883. Strictly speaking, the maps that should accompany the Griffith's Printed Valuation are the maps known in PRONI as the VAL/2/A maps usually dated 1859/60. However, as you will see in the PRONI: VAL/2/A/1/11A Seacon map it is almost impossible to decipher any numbering or lettering on it. Even when the map is enlarged to show the main settlement in Seacon More the difficulty still remains. This is generally the case throughout the areas of Ulster that I am familiar with. The alternative is to use the easier to read PRONI VAL/12D maps which were produced periodically by the valuers carrying out the Griffith's Revisions up until c.1930. The earliest of these maps c.1860s differ very little, if at all, from the VAL/2/A maps and are quite acceptable. In most cases the numbering will be virtually the same. And, to be honest, in townlands where there was little change between 1860 an 1880, apart from some minor changes in the lower case lettering of houses, the askaboutireland maps will match the numbering and lettering in the Printed Griffith's of c.1860 in most townlands.

I should also point out that in some areas of N. Ireland you will see darker coloured askaboutireland maps that stand out against the general orange background of the vast majority of maps. To see these you would need to reduce the Google map to where it shows the northern part of the island of Ireland. These are either working copies of the VAL/2/A or VAL/12/D maps and in the case of the VAL/2/A maps, almost impossible to read. Furthermore some townlands withiin these sheets will not be numbered at all and, as such, are simply Ordnance Survey maps.

So, if you are looking for the exact location of a specific house in the period c,1860 to c.1880 you may have to look at a number of maps both online and in PRONI or your local library. Unfortunately, local libraries in Northern Ireland tend to have VAL/2/A maps. The maps relating to Seacon More are one VAL/2/A/1/11A dated c.1859 and one map covering the period c.1859-1895 [which has bits missing] plus the online askaboutireland map. Because there was little change in Seacon More during this period it would not really matter which map you used. In such a situation I would normally choose the online map. Such was the case with Seacon More.

After the 1890s some changes took place in Seacon More and there was renumbering of some houses and plots of land. The results of a PRONI eCatalogue search, shown below, are five overlapping maps VAL/12/D/1/11C to G covering the period 1884 to 1935. I find it best to look at all of these maps and select those that seem to match, best, the changes in the Revision Books. Have a look at VAL/12/D/1/11G 1907-1935 and contrast it with the online askaboutireland map. To fully understand the changes you will need to look at the relevant Griffith's Revision Books for Seacon More which are now online.