Last Saturday I was lucky enough to attend a lecture of the Irish Genealogical Research Society in Dublin where Kerryman Micheál O’ Siochru, TCD Associate Professor of History gave us a very lively presentation on his work on the Down Survey of Ireland, which is now 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. All Catholics had to move to Connacht. 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. You can also read the eBook from 1851 on ‘The History of the Survey of Ireland commonly called The Down Survey’
Where Kerry is concerned while all the Baronies are included, only some parishes are mapped. This is an online resource that you will have to put some time into. I know I will have to devote a lot more time to appreciate all the information that it gives us. There are great maps including this one where the land to be given out to ‘adventurers’ and soldiers was actually mapped out. You can see maps in colour showing you the difference between 1641 and 1670 when the changes had been completed divided between Catholic Land, Protestant Land, Common & Unprofitable Land and ‘Not in the Survey’. This last deserves special mention – they were not in the Survey as they were already owned by Protestant landowners and there would be no confiscation here.
William Petty (1623-1687) was an English economist, scientist and philosopher. At the time he was appointed to map the forfeited lands. He employed to lay chains down (thus the Down Survey) directly on the land for accurate measurement. Petty gained fame, and considerable personal wealth – including 30,000 acres near Kenmare, Co. Kerry, as payment for completing the Down Survey.
We will come back again to the Down Survey at a future date when readers have a chance to go through it.