Place Names in Ireland - do some digital travelling!

Place Name research: County Galway and elsewhere

As a particular tribute to our friend and esteemed donor, the late Tim Robinson, who passed away on 3 April 2020 in London, this month’s Special Collections blog focuses on resources for research on place names in Ireland. Tim’s extraordinary multi-disciplinary approach to this aspect of his research is typified in a series of Index Cards, created for his maps of Connemara and the Aran Islands. More background to this collection is provided by our Digital Archivist, Aisling Keane,  on our Digital Scholarship page where you can also see Tim Robinson’s Townland Index Connemara & the Aran Islands 

This image shows the detail to which Tim aspired in his quest for the correct meaning and spelling of the place name. It also illustrates the types of sources he used. Happily for us in this period when our library is closed a significant number of these are available in digital format. These include the classic three volume work on Irish place names by Patrick Weston Joyce, The origins and history of Irish names of places, which is available from the Readiing Room of the AskaboutIreland website.  We in County Galway are especially fortunate in that our public library service hosts the Galway Places database. Dedicated researchers transcribed the Name Book manuscripts created during the initial Ordnance Survey in the 1830s. This has resulted in a searchable database which includes a link to the text of the Ordnance Survey Name Book entry for each townland as well links to other related resources. It is available at County Galway Library Places
Staying in Galway, the James Hardiman Library has digitized the 17th Century Pictorial map of Galway City which includes some interesting place names on the city’s periphery. For those who would like to research place names elsewhere in Ireland the invaluable Logainm website is the place to start. Not only does it offer an explanation in both Irish and English of the place name’s origin but it also provides links to many other resources. 

Maps are always a visual aid to locating the names of  older administrative units and our digital collections include the Memorial Atlas of Ireland,  originally published in Philadelphia in 1901, which includes the names of Irish civil parishes and baronies. This image shows some of the civil parishes in and around the town of Sligo. There are plenty of resources for place name research so take the time to some digital travelling!