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Leinster Leader 31 July 2008
Making history and historic materials accessible is the praiseworthy mission of Kildare County Library through its local history department headed up by Mario Corrigan. For a number of years now the County Library has been engaged in a very far-sighted project of making its material available on the internet. Various reports, surveys, gazetteers, and newspaper material relating to Co. Kildare are now up on the website available for consultation by all.
While the original collections and print material will always remain the core historic resource of a history library such as the Kildare County Library’s local studies department the transferral of information to the internet liberates the information from the physical location and opening hours of libraries and archives. By putting the material on the web Mario Corrigan and his team have flung open the doors to their holdings of historic materials and now people whether seriously or casually interested in the material in their collections can now browse on the internet and view the material at any time.  The internet approach is also a boon to Kildare ex-pats abroad with the world wide web knowing no boundaries and now people overseas have access to material held in the library collection in Newbridge. Among the materials now set up for on line viewing are: Thom’s Directories of 1849 & 54; Slater’s Director of 1881; index to the Kildare Archaeological Journal; Michael Kavanagh’s Bibliography of books related to Kildare; material on the 1798 rebellion, the Great Famine 1845-7; as well as material on the Gordon Bennett Race of 1903, and Kildare’s last all-Ireland win in 1928.  The website address is: www.kildare.ie/library/localstudies.
 One of the most important resources held in print and subsequently put up on the web by the Local Studies Deparment  is Lewis’s Topographical Dictionary of 1834 which is like an early AA book of the Road giving detailed accounts of towns, villages and parishes in Co. Kildare in the 1830s.  It has proven to be an essential starting point for any local historian studying the modern history of any part of Co. Kildare. So important is the Lewis material that the project has turned full circle and the Co. Library in partnership with Kildare Town Heritage Centre has now brought out a printed edition of Lewis Topographical Dictionary. While it is hard to beat the internet for accessibility all readers at the end of the day like to have a compact print volume to refer to and this has been achieved in style by Mario Corrigan and his team of assistant editors including Niamh McCabe and Michael Kavanagh.
The original dictionary was compiled by Samuel Lewis in the years 1834 to 1837. He sent questionnaires to the leading gentlemen of each locality and sought information on matters such as the natural resources, mineral springs, peat bogs and mines, as well as any rivers, canals or roads used for transport. As the Church of Ireland was the established church at the time he gives particular attention to rectories and parishes and the manner in which these were supported by local contribution. There is also reference to the chapels of other religions  and to schools. The entries begin with Allen and end with Yagoestown – an old parish near Ballymore Eustace.
A sample from the printed entry is as follows: Bodenstown or Bowdenstown; a parish in the baron of North Naas, county of Kildare, and province of Leinster, 1.5 miles from Clane; containing with part of the village of Sallins, 458 inhabitants. It is bounded on the east by the River Liffey, over which a very curious stone bridge of five arches, all differently shaped. About three-fourths of the land is pasture and appropriated to the fattening of stock for the Liverpool and Dublin markets, and the remainder is under tillage, producing good crops; there is no waste land or bog, yet the supply of fuel is abundant. The Grand Canal which close to the parish facilitates the conveyance of corn and potatoes to the metropolis from which manure is also obtained in abundance. The gentlemen’s seats are that of Blackhall, that of P. Wolfe Esq., Castlesize of I. Manders; Little Rath of Mr. R. Hall, occupying the site of an ancient intrenchment, and Sallins Lodge, near which stood the old castle of Sallins. The living is a vicarage, in the diocese of Kildare, with the perpetual curacy of Shelockstown episcopally united forming the union of Bodenstown, in the patronage of the Bishop; the rectory is impropriate in the Earl of Mayo. There is no church … the Protestant parishioners attend the church in Clane. In the Roman Catholic divisions the parish forms part of the union or district of Kill. There is a pay school of about 10 children. The celebrated Theobald Wolfe Tone was a native of this parish, and lies in the same grave with his father in the churchyard.
This level of information is available in the new publication for every village in the county and is, as might be expected, even more extensive for the larger towns. It is to the great credit of editor Mario Corrigan and his team that they have provided guidance for the reader by way of a listing of old and new placenames, some notes and a very detailed index of all the locations mentioned. Certainly this new volume should be in the glove-box of anybody with an interest in the story of Kildare and its settlements, large and small.
The new publication entitled ‘A Topographical Dictionary of County Kildare 1837’ is available in Farrells of Newbridge; Barker and Jones in Naas; and Athy and Kildare town heritage centres.  


Liam Kenny in his regular feature 'Nothing New Under the Sun'  informs us that "Kildare County Library makes historic materials available on the internet for consultation by all".

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