Given my love of the history of maps, I was excited to hear a segment on the creation of Ordnance Survey maps for Ireland on the RTÉ History Show a few weeks ago.
In the 1700s, when the Williamites wanted to flush out Jacobite fugitives in Scotland, they were hampered by the fact that they had no maps of Scotland, and so they started to make some. Later, in the 1800s, when the revenue people in London wanted to list all the townlands in Ireland that might generate an income for the crown, their first job was to do a major survey of the whole country. And so, while an early generation of surveyors, the Williamites, arrived with guns, the Victorians arrived with clipboards.
You can find the full segment on the RTÉ Radio Player here:
The Ordnance Survey office was established in Ireland in 1824, intended to update land valuations for tax purposes. Under the direction of Major Thomas Colby, the survey was completed in 1846, on a scale of 6 inches to 1 mile. A large portion of the historiography is devoted to debate over the impact of the Ordnance Survey on the anglicization of Ireland, the Irish language, and Irish placenames. Continue reading