Irish Historical Directories



PROVINCIAL DIRECTORIES


Guys Directory, 1897

John Ferrar's Directory of Limerick (1769), partly online at www.celticcousins.net, was the first directory to deal specifically with a provincial town, and the practice spread throughout Munster in the remaining decades of the eighteenth century, with Cork particularly well covered. In the nineteenth century, local directories were produced in abundance, especially in areas with a strong commercial identity, such as Belfast, the north-east and, again, Munster. The quality and coverage of these varies widely, from the street-by-street listings in Martin's 1839 Belfast Directory to the barest of commercial lists. The best online collections are for the city and county of Cork at Cork City Library's site, www.corkpastandpresent.ie, and for Belfast and Ulster generally at PRONI, nidirect.gov.uk/proni.

Checklist

  • Belfast: PRONI (nidirect.gov.uk/proni) has an excellent search interface for its superb collection of Belfast and Ulster directories: Bradshaw's (1819); the Belfast Directory 1831-32; Matier's Belfast Directories 1835-42; Martin's Belfast Directory 1839-43; Londonderry [...] 1839; New Commercial Directory [of Ulster] 1840; Henderson's Belfast and Province of Ulster Directory 1843-1900.
  • Clare: The genealogy section of clarelibrary.ie includes transcripts of all areas in the county up to Guy's Munster Directory of 1893.
  • Cork: The Cork City Libraries website corkpastandpresent.ie includes full-text searchable copies of thirty-eight directories, running from Lucas' Cork Directory (1787) to Guy's City and County Cork Almanac and Directory for 1945. Look in the 'Places' section of the site, not the 'Genealogy' section.
  • Limerick: All Limerick-specific directories, and all Limerick sections of Ireland-wide directories, from Ferrar (1769) to Thom's (1976) are imaged online at limerickcity.ie/Library/LocalStudies. A database of commercial entries for Limerick city is also available.
  • Waterford: The county library has a database transcript of nine directories ranging from Pigot's of 1824 to Thom's of 1910 searchable at resources.waterfordcouncil.ie.
A guide to the principal local directories is included in the county source lists. These lists cannot, however, be regarded as complete: many small, local publications, especially from the first half of the nineteenth century, are now quite rare, with only one or two surviving copies. Locating these can be extremely difficult. Some guides are:

Carty, James, Bibliography of Irish history, 1870-1911, Dublin: nli, 1940. nli rr, 319 p.
Evans, Edward, Historical and Bibliographical Account of Almanacks, Directories etc., in Ireland from the Sixteenth Century, Dublin: 1897. nli Ir 9410016 e 3. 149 p. Reprinted Blackrock, Co. Dublin: Carraig Books, 1976.
Keen, M.E.,A Bibliography of Trade Directories of the British Isles in the Victoria and Albert Museum London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1979. nli G 01742 v 1. 121 p.

In addition, ArchiveCDbooks went about uncovering forgotten local directories in the copyright library of Trinity College, Dublin, and republishing them. Their website, www.archivecdbooks.ie, now appears to be out of use, but most if not all of their products appear to be available at the Irish Family History Centre website.

The best guide to which directories are online (and whether they are free to search) is Shane Wilson's database guide at swilson.info.

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