Sunday, September 21, 2014

Not on the Beaten Path

There comes a point in the intrepid traveler’s life—well, at least in my case—in which that insidious doubt of personal capability overwhelms the confidence that one can find his or her way in the world. In my case, that’s when I succumbed to the siren song of those well-marketed tourists’ guides.

You know those books: the annual issues of brand-name “See Such-and-Such Country” publications.

It started out in a harmless way. A friend passed along a copy of one book. She found it at a used book store and thought of me. A beautiful, glossy handbook, it was full of inspiring photographs and artwork from famous locations in Ireland.

That inspired my husband the other day—since he was on Amazon, anyhow—to take a look at what else might be available. After all, we have to have some idea of what we are going to do, once we land in Dublin.

The books arrived last week—a crazy week, as usual, so I didn’t get a chance to even peek until this weekend. Yes, this weekend in which I’ve been laser-focused on constructing an itinerary for what we will be doing, once we drive to Ballina.

Last night, I thought I’d crack open those shiny pages and see what could be found about my current destination of obsession. I found…absolutely zip. Nada.

Well, that isn’t entirely true. I found two page entries in the index of one book—did I mention it happened to be the only book which actually had an index? (Can you tell, the more ticked I get, the more I tend to use italics?!)

Don’t let those two pages get your hopes up. Remember Ballina boasts a double identity: one in County Mayo—the bigger one more likely to be mentioned—and the smaller one. Guess which one got the bigger mention in the tour book?

The other one—the one I want to know about—got a mention of one line’s length on the page.


Well, let me reconsider that. After all, I’m not really traveling to Ireland to do the tourist routine. I’m looking for a very different pot of gold at the end of this rainbow. Maybe I’m even looking for a different rainbow. And for different rainbows, you have to look in different places.

My digital visit to the County Clare website, yesterday, inspired me to see what I could find in County Tipperary. Remember the GenMaps page I found? If, on that program, you clicked the choice for townlands, you could see the overlay of the borders on the map of the county. You could also click the choice for surnames from Griffith’s Valuation, which would then be superimposed on the same map.

I want that for County Tipperary.

Search as I might, though, I could find no results for such a treasure. County Clare, it appears, has a cutting edge institution, as libraries go. Oh, if only they were on the other side of the Shannon.

Of course, there is a County Tipperary library system. But, coming from a heritage of a bifurcated land mass—historically divided into the “North Riding” and “South Riding” jurisdictions—their town centers are spread throughout a sizeable county. And, of course, their branch libraries appear to be nowhere near Ballina—which is why I am fervently hoping the Ballina folks consider their local library to be the one across the river in Killaloe, oh please, oh please. That way, perhaps that County Clare library would have holdings including the local history and genealogy of this northern outpost of their neighboring county.

Thanks to Google, my searching yielded other local resources—though some of them turn out to be via the usual suspects and/or include some sorrowfully outdated links.

I found this Google Books link to provide a helpful list of local resources.

The County Tipperary library’s website seems to have some promising links. I am guessing the closest branch to Ballina would be the one in Nenagh. Apparently, the term I am looking for—the way the Irish put it, at least—would be “Local Studies.” The library provides a list of links for this, although frustratingly, the list includes contact information for national resources (not very local of them, now, is it?) or pay-for-service sites like the heritage centers. Apparently, there has also been a book published which (I guess) serves as a finding aid for local materials covering a wide range of topics having to do with Tipperary; the library website gives a further description. Of course, I cannot tell from the site whether the limited-edition volume is still available for sale. It might be a useful item to pick up while we are over there. However, the one item I wish I could find—a GenMaps feature for County Tipperary like the one I found yesterday for County Clare—is nowhere to be found on the Tipperary library’s website.

Another local resource I was able to find was the County Tipperary Historical Society. It seems their prime purpose is—or was—to publish an annual journal. I can’t tell if they are still in operation. Their website seems somewhat outdated.

I had to journey way back in time to find another website with links to local resources for County Tipperary. Predictably, it was the ubiquitous GenWeb site, this one specific to County Tipperary. Though the website seems outdated, and contains some broken links, it is packed with a wealth of resources. It provides a page for the specific civil parish in which I had found a Griffith’s Valuation listing for my (hopefully) Denis Tully: Templeachally. Drilling down a bit further, I also was able to find a page on our Tully family’s Tountinna Townland. And, scrolling down past the title of this additional GenWeb page, I found a long list of links referring to other researchers and websites having to do with County Tipperary genealogy.

But still no GenMaps. Which means I’ll need to polish my PhotoShop skills enough to work on graphically overlaying a very old map from the time of Griffith’s Valuation over a modern-day road map, to see if, once we are in Ireland, we can drive by that very location where Denis Tully once eked out a living in rural County Tipperary. If I can discern nothing else, thanks to Google Street View, I can tell things haven’t changed much there, out in that neck of the woods in northern County Tipperary.

Talk about being off the beaten path.

Above: Irish artist Henry Albert Hartland, "On the Moors," 1876 pencil and watercolor inspired by Achill Island in County Mayo; courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain.


  1. Sounds like the OSI Mapviewer ( might help. If you find Ballina on the road map, click the Historic 6" to see it as it was during Griffiths. As far as I remember, you can superimpose one over the other.

    1. Thank you, Dara! Believe me, I will be checking that website thoroughly. If it does what you say, it will be a very handy utility!

  2. Have you tried emailing the Clare Library to see if they can put you in touch with someone who might be familiar with your area of interest? I emailed them once before and found them to be very helpful.

    1. Patrick, the County Clare library website is amazing, isn't it? I did do that very thing, as I found a page of comments from others emailing their questions as well. I have yet to hear back from them, but since I sent my note over the weekend, I am hoping they will respond sometime this week.

      I could get lost in that website, incidentally. So much material to read. Very helpful, as you mentioned.

  3. I am excited for your trip to begin. I talked to my brother yesterday he just returned from Ireland...he used to go there six to eight weeks every year when he worked for HP. His wife never got to go along until now. :) You have a good week getting ready!

    1. Thank you, Far Side. It is getting exciting, thinking there is only one week until we go. Of course, there is so much yet to do...I miss doing my usual blog reading routine and haven't been to your blogs in several days. But soon, all this preparation will pay off--hopefully with some great stories to tell as we make our way through Ireland!

  4. I got lost in there......

  5. mentions a Flanagan's Restaurant on the Lake.....


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