Home > Services > Libraries > Local Studies And Archive Service > Reseach your Family and Local History
Speech & Reading
Download Zone

AudioBooks eBooks
Social Media
Facebook YouTube blog twitter flickr

Local history and genealogy 

Some of the key primary sources available online and at the Local Studies Departments, Offaly Libraries.



Down Survey 1654 Sir William Petty (online)

Taken in the years 1656-1658, the Down Survey of Ireland is the first ever detailed land survey on a national scale anywhere in the world. The survey sought to measure all the land to be forfeited by the Catholic Irish in order to facilitate its redistribution to Merchant Adventurers and English soldiers. Copies of these maps have survived in dozens of libraries and archives throughout Ireland and Britain, as well as in the National Library of France. This Project has brought together for the first time in over 300 years all the surviving maps, digitised them and made them available as a public online resource.


Primary Valuation Books (Griffith’s Valuation - online)

Griffith ’s Valuation is the name widely given to the Primary Valuation of Ireland, a property tax survey carried out in the mid-nineteenth century under the supervision of Sir Richard Griffith. The survey involved the detailed valuation of every taxable piece of agricultural or built property on the island of Ireland and was published county-by-county between the years 1847 and 1864.


The Tithe Applotment Books (online)

The Tithe Applotment Books are a vital source for genealogical research for the pre-Famine period, given the loss of the 1821-51 Census records. They were compiled between 1823 and 1837 in order to determine the amount which occupiers of agricultural holdings over one acre should pay in tithes to the Church of Ireland (the main Protestant church and the church established by the State until its dis-establishment in 1871). There is a manuscript book for almost every civil (Church of Ireland) parish in the country giving the names of occupiers of each townland, the amount of land held and the sums to be paid in tithes.


Census of Ireland(1813/ 1821/1831/1841/1851/1861/1881/1891/1901/1911 - online)

The Census reports are the official compilations of population figures which also contain various other statistics. The primary units used were counties and baronies. The first official Census of Ireland, 1813 – 1815 is incomplete, however the 1821 census is more comprehensive. Data was collected on houses, inhabitants, ages, occupations, farm size. The Census also provides information on emigration and statistics on education and literacy some of which comes under the heading “observation”.

The standards of the 1831 Census are lower than that of 1821, however by far the most reliable for the first half of the 19th century is that of 1841. It is arranged by county and provides Tables of ages, education, marriage, house accommodation and occupations. For Offaly search for King's County.


Ordnance Survey

The Ordnance Survey was established in the Phoenix Park, Dublin, 1824 and assigned the task to delimit the 60,000 townlands in Ireland. This was completed in 1846 with a total of 1,906 sheets produced. The maps are a scale of six inches to one statute mile with supplementary large scale maps. Boundaries of counties, baronies, civil parishes and townlands defined.

Some useful publications for researching family and local history are listed below or check our online catalogue for other titles:


Tracing your Irish Ancestors, John Grenham (Gill & Macmillan, 2012)

This fourth edition of Tracing Your Irish Ancestors embraces online research as an essential part of any Irish family history project. Grenham includes detailed guides to Irish online records throughout the book, discussing the idiosyncrasies of the digital versions of sources and outlining research strategies.


How to trace your Irish Ancestors, Dr. Ian Maxwell (How to Books, 2008)

Highlights some of the important documentary evidence available to the family historians researching Irish ancestry. This title offers researchers what is available locally and online.


Tracing the past / William Nolan (Geography publication, 1982)

  • Good introduction to the study of local history.
  • Clear concise explanation of all major original sources and terms.


Irish Genealogy: a record finder / edited by Donal F. Begley (Heraldic Artists, c.1981)

  • Chapters devoted to: directories, census returns, newspapers etc.
  • Useful section ‘special report on surnames’.