Maps & Plans



Survey of meadows for Michael Caraher, Cardistown. Archival Code: PP/12/18/7 Louth County Archives Service


Map of Granard Town, Co. Longford, with reference table, 1795. Archival Code: M/E/M/1 Longford County Archives


Portion of map of the demesne lands of the Farnham estate. Archival Code: P1/339 Cavan County Archives Service


Barton Estate Map, Wicklow County Archives


Barony of Arklow Map, Wicklow County Archives


Map of proposed bathing shelters, Portmarnock, October 1938. Archival Code: FCCA/DBPH/M/03. Fingal County Archives Service


A map depicts an area of the landscape using symbols and a certain scale. The first maps were made in the Middle East about 2300 BC, but it was the ancient Greeks who developed cartography (the science of map-making). Map-making grew in Europe in the Middle Ages, and maps became more accurate with more exploration and the development of scientific methods of measurement.

Mapping began in Ireland with the Plantations in the sixteenth century. The English authorities needed to have detailed information on the lands they intended to settle. As time passed, maps were produced for many purposes including:

    Military - showing where a barracks was located etc.
    Estate maps ñ showing the site of tenant farms and other features
    For the building of roads, canals and railways
    For the navigation of rivers and coastal waters

Map-making reached new heights with the Ordnance Survey (OS), which prepared very detailed maps of all of Ireland at a scale of six inches to one mile in the period 1825-'46. It later produced maps of other scales, and town plans, and still is the government agency responsible for mapping.

Many archival maps are very attractive and show a high level of artistic work. Maps are very important sources for researchers of all kinds. They show how the landscape has changed over time; how human settlement has developed; and many allow for the study of place names and even field boundaries.

Plans & Drawings

Plans for Labourers Cottages Inishowen, 1902. Archival Code: LABS/5 Donegal County Archives

Plan of architect's office, Sam Stephenson 1958. Archival Code: 89/24 Irish Architectural Archive

Avoca Mines. Wicklow County Archives

Galway Infirmary 1802-1892. Archival Code: GCCA/GH2/4 Galway County Council Archives

Elevation drawing of Labourer's Cottages, Clonmel. South Tipperary County Archives

Survey of Balbriggan Baths and Building Adjoining, November 1935. Archival Code: FCCA/M/I/03 Fingal County Archives Service

James Hardiman, Volume of Drawings (1812-1830). Archival Code: GCCA/GS01/2 Galway County Council Archives

Front elevation of Cavan Town Hall. Cavan County Archives Service

Hunt drawing. Kildare County Archives

County Carlow Charitable Dispensary, 1805. Delany Archive

Plans, drawings and specifications are often records of designs ñ of houses, buildings, furniture, equipment, machinery or infrastructural projects. They were created by professionals, such as architects, engineers and designers in the course of their work. They were often produced using a tracing paper that becomes very brittle and difficult to handle over time. Some plans and drawings are very colourful and are good examples of the artistic skills of their creators.

These records are important when researching buildings, the development of infrastructure and the history of design in Ireland. In cases where the building, pipes or machinery are still in existence the information they contain is not only of historic significance but also of practical value for people today. Specialist Archives such as the Irish Architectural Archive hold many plans but most archives services will hold some examples.

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