Good news for amateur historians – the Griffith’s Valuation is now online. During the famine years, and after [1847 -1864], the government of the day gave Richard Griffith the task of performing a valuation of all land-holdings in Ireland, so that those holdings could be taxed. Given that half the population was dying of starvation at the time, it shows the government’s priorities at the time.
Because many archives were destroyed during the Irish Civil War, the Griffith’s Valuation has become an important source for genealogists. The current online system is a bit flakey – the maps take a long time to load and there is no way at present to search by page or navigate easily from one page to another. I’m sure it will be improved over time.
Naturally, I tested it by looking up my own family’s holding. And sure enough, the first entry for the townsland of Monasset¹, in the parish of Rahugh (now part of Kilbeggan in Co. Westmeath) is a Lawrence Smyth – tenant to a Mrs. S Chenivex- and probably my great-great-grandfather. Interestingly (well, for me), the holding listed isn’t on the site of the family farm and, because of the problem traversing pages, I couldn’t find the page where our farm is located today.
So now you have something to do over the weekend – see if your ancestor was one of the poor suffering tenants, or one of their overlords. And if you don’t find anything, then you are probably a blow-in.
¹The original North Atlantic Skyline used monasset in the domain name because it was the name of my homeplace – I was locked out of it by the ineptness of the original ISP, so I changed it to www.monasette.com (which is how it is pronounced anyway).