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World first for Clare Library

The Clare People, Tuesday 28th March, 2006.

Clare Library is celebrating a world-first after launching its Internet Geographical Information System.

The digitized maps on the Clare County Library Website will allow users to further investigate local studies and genealogical information.

By clicking on a townland marked on a map, all related information (census records, Griffith’s Valuation, photographs, trade directories and so on) will be presented.

Clicking on a monument feature, such as a castle, tower house or round-tower, will make everything in the library’s extensive Website about each of these features instantly available.

The maps will also provide and demonstrate new relationships between existing data on the site, and users will be able to use feature-layers produced from the maps as a new search facility.

Over 6,000 images were created as ‘tiles’ from original scans for the 1842 Ordnance Survey (OS) Six-Inch maps of County Clare.

More than 2,000 townland pages, and in excess of 6,000 monument pages, were also created in conjunction with the project.

Clare County Library holds two complete sets of the first edition OS Six-Inch maps for County Clare. However, the set scanned for this online project was acquired from the O’Brien family of Dromoland Castle. The Ordnance Survey was originally established in Britain in 1791, and in 1824 the Survey established its Irish headquaters in Dublin, in order to undertake the mapping and measurement of Irish town lands.

The maps were drawn on a scale of six inches to one mile and published between 1833 and 1846. They were later revised on a county-by-county basis.

There were four OS centers in Ireland, at Dublin, Belfast, Cork and Ennis. The Ordnance Survey House in College Road, Ennis, now Maoin Cheoil an Chláir, became their local headquarters in Clare and was the centre of operations for the survey and mapping of Clare, Limerick, part of Galway and Kerry in the earlier stages of the work and, later, Sligo, Leitrim and Roscommon.

The entire survey was under the direction of Colonel Thomas Colby who realised the need, not just to produce a series of accurate and realistic maps, but also to compliment it with a separate topographical inventory of all places of interest in each county, as well as aspects of architecture and archaeology. At the time of the original publication of the OS maps, Ireland was considered to be the best mapped country in the world.

Full details are available on the library website at

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