Module Two: Finding Your Townland
Locating the Origin of an Immigrant
In this module you will learn about Irish land jurisdictions, and how to search for a townland using U.S. record, Irish maps, and other resources.
you mean to tell me, Katie Scarlett O'Hara, that Tara,
that land doesn't mean anything to you? Why, land is
the only thing in the world worth working for, worth
fighting for, worth dying for, because it's the only
thing in the world that lasts." (Margaret Mitchell;
Gone with the Wind)
Irish Land Jurisdictions
The most important areas in
your search are the townland or parish. This is the
specific location where your Irish ancestors lived.
Although it may not be
possible to research your Irish family past the early
1800s, since the Irish were a relatively immobile
society you can identify your ancestral homeland. When
you find it, it is likely that you have hundreds of
years of history in that area.
For more information about
each of the land divisions, read the article Irish
How Do I Find a Townland?
The key to success in Irish
research is finding the townland, parish, or at least
county of origin. It is possible to be successful
without this information, but it is much harder. The
name of the townland is often garbled in family
tradition - Emly becomes Emily, Knockfierna becomes
Some of the best places to look for information about the townland or parish of a ancestor are:
If you can't find any
information for your ancestor, try searching for their
For other ideas on
resources to check, read the article Irish
Ancestry, The Hunt for the Townland.
When you find a townland,
there are several resources online to help you
determine its parish, barony, and province. The Ireland
Townland Database can provide this information.
If you only have a parish you can enter the parish and
county, and the database will list all of the
townlands in that parish for you. You can also Google
your parish and townland, and may be able to locate
the townland on a map.
Assignment Three: Continue your own personal research, looking for your ancestor's birthplace. Record your findings.