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30-06-2020, 09:49   #1
PCGEN
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Civil Parishes

I am currently doing a college project on Townland Research. I am looking for an official list of of Civil Parishes from an official website. Would anyone be able to tell me where they originated from? Thanks
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30-06-2020, 12:42   #2
RonanG86
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The CSO used to record their population individually in censuses up until the 60s (or maybe the 80s?), so you might be able to get a list from old censuses.

I'm not sure any other official website or listing, in the sense of being from a government body, exists given that they lost nearly all administrative purpose with the 1898 Local Government Act and even before then were being gradually replaced with the subdivisions of Poor Law Unions (which now roughly equate to the District Electoral Divisions).

Townlands.ie might be worth a look too. It's not an official government / CSO site as far as I know, but it's pretty exhaustive and comes with maps.

Historically, they originated from medieval church parishes. But what they started as likely bears little relation to what's considered the parish now. Probably the first place they were written down and mapped with any useful accuracy was the Down Survey in the mid 17th century. Further back than that you're into scanning through Calendars of State Papers around the plantation era to see land grants. Your mileage on that could vary wildly.

Last edited by RonanG86; 30-06-2020 at 22:22.
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30-06-2020, 16:42   #3
pinkypinky
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You won't get one on an official website.

Lots of genealogy websites will help you with this: swilson.info, Seanruad.
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01-07-2020, 03:04   #4
Peregrinus
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PCGEN View Post
I am currently doing a college project on Townland Research. I am looking for an official list of of Civil Parishes from an official website. Would anyone be able to tell me where they originated from? Thanks
As RonanG86 says, they started out as the medieval church parishes. Ireland was Christianised from the fifth century onwards, but a system of dioceses and parishes wasn’t really implemented until the twelfth century, and the parish structure in particular was only solidly established in the parts of the country under English or Anglo-Norman influence.

In the period after the reformation the Church of Ireland continued to use the original parish structure, while the Catholic church operated basically in “mission territory” mode, without a definite or fixed system of parishes. They didn’t reestablish a comprehensive system of parishes until the nineteenth century, at which point they started from scratch and built up a new system of parishes based on population, settlement, land use etc prevailing at that time.

Then in 1870 the church of Ireland was disestablished and the link between its parish structure and the civil parishes was broken. They didn’t start again from scratch, but over time their parish network has also departed from the civil parish network.

The civil parish network has hardly changed at all, largely because civil parishes no longer have any administrative signficance, and so there has been no need to tinker with them. They are useful for locating land precisely because they are a set of territorial divisions with well-established boundaries that never change.

The system of townlands is much, much older than the system of parishes.
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