Ireland's past will come to life tomorrow when the Irish government plans to unveil an online map archive with details of every town, street, and farm on the Emerald Isle dating back nearly 200 years -- an unprecedented achievement expected to be a treasure trove for those tracing their Irish ancestry.[ ... ]
For 5 euros a day, roughly $6.40, computer users can access visual images of more than 30,000 maps of Irish localities dating back to 1824, a database cobbled together from the vast archival holdings of the government and universities in Ireland. Users can search the database by zooming in on maps, or using key terms, to pinpoint where their relatives once lived, eliminating often fruitless searches in Ireland's aging paper archives, which are spread out among several facilities and often consume time that could be spent visiting ancestral hometowns.
Irish government officials said they expect Massachusetts to be a source of enormous traffic on the Web portal to the maps, www.irishhistoricmaps.ie. About 23 percent of the state's population has Irish roots, the heaviest concentration in the United States.
Michael P. Quinlin of the Boston Irish Tourism Association said lack of preparation often leads to absurd results: "You have Americans showing up in an Irish city and asking if there are any O'Learys living there. Well, that hardly narrows it down."
Somehow, I'm thinking that a strapping lad with an interest in genealogy might find something like this of interest ...