Ordnance Survey Memoirs

The Ordnance Survey Memoirs of Ireland are are a unique source for the history of the northern half of Ireland before the Great Famine, as they document the landscape and situation, buildings and antiquities, land-holdings and population, employment and livelihoods of the parishes. The surveyors recorded the habits of the people, their food, drink, dress and customs. Details of ruined churches, prehistoric monuments and standing stones were also included.

Importantly, the Ordnance Survey Memoirs also provide copious background information on the character and habits of the people who lived in Ireland during the early part of the nineteenth century.

In some instances certain volumes of the series (particularly the volumes covering counties Antrim and Londonderry) will provide names and other useful details relating to individuals.

For example, the extract below is taken from Volume 11, concerning those living in the parish of Aghanloo:

The most remarkable person born in this parish was the father of George Berriman, who is said to have had 49 children.

Another exatract (taken from the same volume) but concerns those living in the parish in Tamlaghtard (or Magilligan) parish:

James Conn and Dennis Hamson were the only remarkable characters in this parish. The former … was known to lift a pair of large cartwheels, newly shod, and raise them with one hand above his head also to break new horse shoes into pieces with his hands.

For the family historian, the memoirs are an invaluable resource that offers a rare glimpse into the lives and world of your nineteenth and even eighteenth(-born) century forbears.