Localities and Communities aims to identify records that can rediscover the story of people and their home place during the 19th century. We will identify a variety of records, from burnt scraps and rare copy census forms to local data describing every parish and townland, and begin reconstructing our understanding of the period.
The destruction of the 19th century census records was one of the greatest tragedies in the loss of the Public Record Office in 1922. Millions of records, describing families, individuals and localities across many decades, went up in flames. Much of Irish life in this period was hidden behind a cloud of smoke. Since 1922 archivists, genealogists and historians have hunted for surviving fragments.
By including census substitutes such as local population records, parliamentary reports and documents held in county archives, we can fill out the picture. Bringing these diverse records together into a searchable database will reconnect online users with their locality as it was in the 19th century, introducing them to the world in which their ancestors lived.
This strand involves county archives across Ireland to engage localities and their communities. Priority archives in this strand include the records of local government (County Grand Juries) and selected exploration of Poor Law Union records, in collaboration with the Local Government Archivists and Record Managers. Some remarkable rarities such as copies from the first state census in 1813, and thousands of names from 1821 — the first census to record every individual — will receive special attention.