Local History Sources

Sources for Local History, Co. Cork (1850-1901)

This page provides a list of local history sources relating to places in Co. Cork between 1850 and1901. It accompanies a 2 hour lecture entitled: ‘Ireland 1850-1901: a social, economic and political history’ provided as part of the ‘Sources and Methods’ module of the MA in Local History at UCC.

Where digital versions are available for free, links are provided. The list is indicative rather than comprehensive, but please contact me if there are any other useful sources you think should be added.

Townland Index and Placenames Database

The General alphabetical index to townlands and towns, parishes and baronies of Ireland, published in 1861 and based on the 1851 census, has been made available online via EPPI (Enhanced Parliamentary Papers on Ireland). This is a useful aid in confirming which parish, barony and 1857 poor law union a certain townland fell within. It also provides the sheet number the townland appears in on the Ordnance Survey 6 inch first edition maps. Current data can be found in Logainm.ie, the Irish placenames database, along with maps, Irish and English versions of placenames, plus pronunciations.

Townlands explorer: http://www.swilson.info/explorerb.php

Ordnance Survey Maps

The first edition six-inch Ordance Survey maps are held in a number of repositories across Ireland, including University College Cork, the Royal Irish Academy and Trinity College Dublin. The Ordnance Survey Ireland’s public map viewer provides access to historic maps online but these are for viewing only, not download. However, prints may be ordered.

Griffith’s Valuation and Maps

Griffith’s Valuation is actually a series of published pamphlets, which are held in across a number of collections all over the world. There is no single complete collection of the pamphlets, but The National Library of Ireland and Eneclann sourced most of the pamphlets that had been published and digitised these. As a result, their online version is the most comprehensive. There are a number of online editions though the only free one is available at Ask About Ireland. It does not include the original Griffith maps though; these can be accessed via Irish Origins or findmypast.ie and in the Valuation Office, Dublin (open from 9.15 to 4.30).

For more on working with Griffith’s Valuation see my article ‘Griffith’s Valuation as a source for Irish Family History‘ Irish Roots 2011, No. 3.

Valuation Office Records

These records are held in the Valuation Office in Dublin. Plans are underway to digitise and make them available online, but so far a few counties have been digitised and are available to view at the Valuation Office. Cancelled valuation books for the northern counties are available online via the PRONI (Public Record Office of Northern Ireland) website.

Estate Records

Estate records can be difficult to track down. The list below is a starting point for estates that incuded land in Cork but is by no means comprehensive (again, do pass on any links that would be useful to add).

Repository Estate Papers (covering period 1850 – 1901)

UCC……………………………………………………………Bantry, Grehan

Cork Archives………………………………………………Bence-Jones, Bernard (Bandon), Colthurst, Egmont, Grove-White and Ryan-Purcell

The National Archives of Ireland……………………..Carroll, Dennis, Smith, Townsend

The National Library of Ireland………………………..Bowen, Clanwilliam, Crofton, Devonshire, Doneraile

The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland……Shannon

Trinity College Dublin…………………………………….Donoughmore

The sources.ie website is a great place to start searching for landed estates papers, and also bear in mind that some estate records may be held in Britain, so it is also worth checking the British National Archives catalogue.

Encumbered Estates Records

These records are held in the National Archives of Ireland. Digital versions are available on the commercial website findmypast.ie. A comprehensive list of encumbered estates in Cork is provided by Anita Sheahan Coraluzzi on her corkgen.org website.


Key local newspapers of this period include the Cork Examiner and Cork Weekly News, while national newspapers include the Freeman’s Journal. Newspapers are mainly accessible via microfilm and are held in local and national repositories (see UCC’s Newspaper Holdings, Cork County Libary’s newspaper collections and the National Library of Ireland in Dublin’s newspaper database).

Note that UCC students have free access to both the Irish Newspaper Archive online and Irish Times Archive through the online library pages.


Most of these have been digitised by Cork City Libraries on their website corkpastandpresent.ie

Purcell’s Commercial Cork Almanac, 1852

Purcell’s Commercial Cork Almanac, 1855

Slater’s National Commercial Directory of Ireland, 1856

Laing’s Cork Mercantile Directory, 1863

Henry and Coghlan’s General Directory of Cork, 1867

Slater’s Directory of Ireland 1870

Fulton’s City of Cork and Queenstown Directory, 1871

Wilkie’s Cork City Directory, 1872

Guy’s City and County Cork Almanack and Directory, 1875

Slater, Royal National Commercial Directory of Ireland, 1881

Guy’s City and County Cork Almanack and Directory, 1881

Guy’s City and County Cork Almanack and Directory, 1884

Guy’s Postal Directory of Munster, 1886

Guy’s City and County Cork Almanack and Directory, 1889

Guy’s City and County Cork Almanack and Directory, 1893

Slater, Royal Commercial Directory of Ireland, 1894

Guy’s City and County Cork Almanack and Directory, 1897