Monday, November 7, 2016

Good fences make good neighbors: Using Griffith's Valuation

During a recent weekend when FindMyPast offered free Irish records, I spent some time looking through the records of the Irish Petty Sessions Court for Castlebar. I found that my 3x great-grandfather, Patrick O'Hora, spent a lot of time there in 1878, always as the complainant. On four separate occasions, his neighbors James and Thomas Blean let their sheep get into his fields - twice into the turnips, and twice into the oats. I found myself surprisingly aggravated on his behalf. Fix your fences, already, Mr. Blean! The Bleans are listed as residents of a different townland than the O'Horas, though; they are from Crumlin, while we are from Spink.

July 1878, Court of Petty Sessions, Castlebar
O'Hora v. Blean
The O'Horas are alternately listed in Spink and in Tawnyshane, which I believe are two names that applied to the same area. More on that soon.

But in using Griffith's Valuation and maps recently, I got a very good idea of just where the O'Horas were living - or at least, where their oats and turnips were growing. There's only one Patrick O'Hora listed in Tawnyshane; he and two other O'Horas, Michael and Anthony, are all listed in Lot 1, and they each have a house listed, so it would not be unreasonable to suppose that they all live there. I can't actually find the letters indicating houses on the map, so I don't know about the arrangements of the buildings. Then, I noticed, on another page, the enumeration of the townland of Crumlin. A James Blain occupied Lot 5.

To the maps I went, and although they took a lot of figuring out, I eventually located Tawnyshane, and Lot 1, held by the O'Horas. Sure enough, whose land was immediately adjacent to it? James Blain's, right over the border in Crumlin.

Griffith's Valuation map. Crumlin/Tawnyshane

You can see both lots towards the center of the map, with a bold red line between them, marking the border between the two townlands. Crumlin Lot 5 is long and horizontally oriented, and Tawnyshane Lot 1 is just beneath it, a sort of irregular square. As it turns out, Mr. Blain's lot is significantly larger than the one shared by 3 O'Horas, which makes me even more annoyed about his marauding sheep. Keep them on your own land, if you have so much of it! Don't destroy our meager crop!

Most of my previous attempts at using Griffith's Valuation have consisted of staring blankly at the page and saying, "But how can I tell if that John Smith is MY John Smith?!" I knew there was a lot of potential there, but this is the first time I've systematically cross-referenced multiple sources to actually be able to interpret it, and the first time I've really been able to use it to tell me something. I'm so excited to see what else is there!

No comments: