Maps ... I love them. My grandfather instilled a tremendous appreciation for the art / science of cartography, and the essentiality of being proficient in geography. He was neither a professional cartographer nor an expert geographer, but he studied maps on a regular basis. I often saw him doing this when I was a child, but I only really began to understand how captivating a study of geography can be.
When it comes to ancestry and genealogical research, maps can be of tremendous help to those who are combing the records for links to their own pasts. There are multitudes of excellent maps to be seen and studied. Some are readily accessible (and widely circulated online), but others have been seen by a relatively small number of people. I will be combing the online archives for useful and interesting maps of Ireland and posting the best of what I find here in The Wild Geese community for all the ancestry enthusiasts among us (and there are many). I'll try to keep an updated network of links to all the maps I share here at TheWildGeese.com at the bottom of this page and all other pages to come.
This first map (which can be enlarged by clicking on the image above) is a beautiful one depicting the distribution of Ireland's families around A.D. 1300. This puts it right at the beginning of the Late Middle Ages. The map itself was drawn centuries later; but as far as I can tell, it is an accurate representation of how Ireland was being ruled by her native Gaelic families around that time.
This map will differ from later depictions since many Anglo-Irish and Norman families would either have not yet arrived or taken a strong foothold in the areas in which they would eventually settle. Thus, if your surname is not of old Gaelic stock, you may not find it on this map. Also, the surnames are written in Irish, so if you're not familiar with the original Irish versions of these names, be prepared to do a bit of thinking and/or research on that.
Just a note on the clarity of the image: When the map is enlarged, the printing is a bit pixelated. Most names can still be made out, but they're not razor sharp.
Interested in your own Irish roots? Join the "Irish Ancestry" members' group.
Geo-Genealogy of Irish Surnames (based on 1890 census)