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Survey of Estate papers in the National Library of Ireland and the National Archives of Ireland: Co. Clare

Purpose and Scope of Survey

The purpose of this survey is to identify estate material of potential relevance for general genealogical research in the period before the first publication of Griffith’s Valuation, as it is before that date that the lack of genealogical sources is most keenly felt. It is hoped that the material thus identified will be made more accessible by providing:

an overview of the civil parishes covered in whole or in part;
an alphabetical listing of townlands;
a description of the nature of the documents surveyed;
a description of the coverage of the record, specifying the class of tenant included.

Scope of the survey
Before using this material, you should be very clear about what it is and isn’t. It is a finding aid for catalogued material of general genealogical significance in the records of the former landed estates now in the custody of the National Archives of Ireland (NAI) and the National Library of Ireland (NLI). It includes records in manuscript form, as well as microfilm or published formats or records whose originals may be elsewhere. Its limitations are as follows:

it does not include Irish estate records in manuscript not held by NAI of NLI;
it does not include Irish estate records starting after the publication date of Griffith’s Valuation for the relevant county;
it does not include Irish estate records in manuscript held by NAI of NLI which were not catalogued and publicly available at the time this survey was carried out;
it does not include material such as pedigrees or family letters relating to individual landed families which may be included with the records of their estates;
it does not include a complete account of large manuscript collection such as the Lismore Papers of the Inchiquin Collection which may contain many records covering the same general area.

To understand these limitations, it may be useful to know how the project was carried out. Research was divided into three stages.

  1. Material of likely relevance was identified from the NAI and NLI catalogues, primarily the Hayes Catalogue of Manuscript Sources for the Study of Irish Civilization and its supplements. The identification of material of likely relevance was necessarily a somewhat subjective process, given that the catalogue descriptions can be terse, and reliance was placed on the experience of those carrying out the research, including members of the Association of Professional Genealogists in Ireland.
  2. The individual manuscripts identified as possibly relevant were the examined in detail. If they proved to contain material of genealogical interest (such as rentals, or surveys containing names of tenants), then:

    (a) all the places-names covered were extracted, and

    (b) an attempt was made to specify the nature of the material in order to indicate whether all tenants were included or only major tenants/middlemen. Once again the judgement of the individual researcher was the arbiter.

  3. The place-names extracted from the records were identified by civil parish and a report produced showing civil parishes covered and listing place-names by manuscript. All manuscripts contained place-names that remained unidentifiable in the major sources. The proportion could be as high as 30% in some places.


Part I: Civil Parish Summary