Some notes 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 six inch valuation maps 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 - more on this later.

When you reach the website the default is a Family Name Search. Note that the search is an "exact match" search. Only entries matching your exact spelling of the surname and forename will be selected. This can be a problem with names such as Archibald which can also be spelt as Archbold. Often you will have to try a number of variant spellings to be sure that you retrieved all persons with the name Smyth, Smith, etc. If you know where the person or persons lived you can switch to a Place Name Search. Again the townland name that you enter in the Search Box must match the spelling in the database.

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. 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.

As I said above, 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.

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. The modern road map can be useful when you are looking for a c.1860 townland.

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.

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 askaboutireland.ie website you will find that most of them are orange in colour and look as if they are the 1870-83 maps referred to in the quote above. Strictly speaking, the maps that should accompany the Griffith's Printed Valuation for the six counties of Northern Ireland are the maps known in PRONI, Belfast as the VAL/2/A series, usually dated 1859/60. If there has not been much change in the numbering and boundaries of farms in a townland between 1860 and c.1880, the askaboutireland maps will match the numbering in the Printed Griffith's of c.1860 in most townlands.

Problems will arise when there have been major changes in a townland due, for example, to the consolidation of some farms or the "tumbling" of cottier houses, then it becomes more difficult, and often impossible, to match the numbers in the Printed Book with the numbers on the askaboutireland.ie maps. This means that you will have to make use of the VAL/2/A maps which are only available in PRONI or in local libraries. Ballymena Library has copies of these maps for Cos. Antrim and Londonderry and Coleraine Library has copies for Co. Londonderry only. I am not familiar with other local libraries within Northern Ireland.

However, many of these maps are very difficult to decipher. In fact I would tend to use the maps in PRONI which are part of the VAL/12/D series. These maps range in date from the 1860s to the 1930s and have been produced to match the numbering in the Valuation Revision Books. Using one of the early maps means that it is not too far away in date from the information in the Printed Griffith's of c.1860.

In some areas of the askaboutireland.ie maps covering the six counties of Northern Ireland you will see darker coloured maps that stand out against the general orange background of the vast majority of maps. These "different" maps are to be found in Mid Co. Derry and Mid Antrim - see sketch map below.

Back in 2010, when I was producing my CD, sheet Nos. 17 , 18 and 21 to 26 in Co. Londonderry were missing completely from the website. Since then they have been included and they look to me as if they are early copies of the PRONI VAL/12/D maps.Whilst not as sharp as the orange maps, they are perfectly acceptable.

However, there is a particular problem with the Co. Antrim sheets 24 to 45. Many of these maps are lacking the reference numbers and letters that are crucial in matching up the Valuation Books and Maps and look more like OS maps than Valuation maps. On closer examination of sheets 24 to 45 you will find that most of these sheets have a group of contiguous townlands where properties are numbered and demarcated on the map, as in a normal valuation map. The remaining non-numbered townlands on the sheet look more like an OS Map.

The reason for this patchy numbering of townlands within these sheets is the fact that this Mid Antrim area is covered by three separate Poor Law Unions - Antrim, Ballymena and Larne. The maps chosen for Mid Antrim appear to be the working maps of the valuers. Valuers tended to have a separate sheet for each Barony so it usually depends on which sheet was chosen to upload to the askaboutireland website. Also, it would appear that sometimes the map chosen was a PRONI VAL/2A map and in other cases a PRONI VAL/12/D map.

The fact that so much essential information is missing from the Mid Antrim maps means that, in many cases, you will not be able to see where a farm was located on the relevant map nor will the boundaries of that farm be marked out on that map. The only option here is to get a copy of the relevant VAL/2/A map [which, as I have already said, may be difficult to read] from PRONI or a local library - or go for the VAL/12/D maps [only available in PRONI] which were produced to accompany the later Valuation Revision Books.

I am presently preparing a paper on Valuation Maps held in PRONI.

Click here for a PDF paper on Index to the sheet numbers of the Six Inch Ordnance Survey Maps [1833 to c.1950] for Co. Londonderry and North & Mid Antrim.

Large scale Griffith's Town Maps

Note that the askaboutireland website does not not contain any large scale Griffith's town maps. These are only available in PRONI, Belfast. Over the years I have copied a number of these maps for a selection of towns and villages in Cos. Londonderry and Antrim. In the table below you will find links to these maps. Sometimes the c.1860 map is difficult to read. The later maps are often of better quality and, anyhow, they are necessary if you are using the Griffith's Revision Books which "map" the changes taking place in a street. These maps are vital when trying to locate 1901/1911 Census families in a particular street. Note that some of the maps below may only cover part of a town. This is because when I was copying these maps in the past I was usually interested in certain streets within a town or city. Although, now available online, I have also added copies of the Printed Griffith's Valuation for some of these towns. Note that the Ballymoney pages are in PDF format.

Ballymoney 1861 Printed pages PDF 1860 map - read more. 1880 maps of north & south parts of the town. 1895 map.
Coleraine 1859 Printed pages 1859 Valuation map Later Valuation maps [Concentrate on Church Street area.]
Derry/Londonderry 1858 Printed pages 1858 Valuation map Later Valuation maps [Concentrate on William Street area.]
Dungiven 1858 Printed pages 1858 Valuation map Map VAL/12/E/146/1 [1904-1908] available in PRONI.
Limavady 1858 Printed pages 1858 Valuation map Maps VAL/12/E/149/1 [1894-1898] etc. available in PRONI.
Magherafelt 1859 Printed pages 1859 Valuation map Maps VAL/12/E/151/1 [1893-1898] etc. available in PRONI.

Finding the Title Page of a Valuation Book in the askaboutireland.ie website

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.

W. Macafee
2nd March 2015.