One of the most valuable sources for the history of County Kildare is Samuel Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of Ireland published in 1837. In 2002, The History and Family Research Centre decided to extract all articles pertaining to Kildare and re-assemble them as one complete searchable document and offer them also in A-Z format entry by entry as Lewis had intended. This therefore compliments the original work but offers the researcher easy access to the relevant Co. Kildare articles.
The enormity of the original task facing Lewis was immediately obvious and even now I find myself wanting to re-edit the material again to be happy with the finished product but I'm afraid that it may never see the light of day if I keep editing. Any mistakes are mine and I welcome criticism and advice should mistakes be noted so that corrections can be made. Copies of the original are available in the Local Studies Department of Kildare County Library.
This project could not have been completed without the support of Co. Librarian Breda Gleeson and the History and Family Research Centre. Likewise it could not have been completed without the aid of Niamh McCabe and Mark Kennedy who worked on it separately during the summers of 2003 and 2004. Much gratitude is due to them for their enthusiasm, patience and editing abilities.
I often refer to the original as a sort of Shell Guide to Ireland of 1837, a snapshot of life in Ireland just before the Famine. It is important in its own right but even more so because it was published around the same time as the original Ordnance Survey 6 inch Maps. It is a source I use regularly in research and constantly recommend to people who are researching Ireland in the 19th Century. For people trying to trace their ancestors in Co. Kildare it will hopefully provide an insight into their ancestor's lives and into the locality in which they lived.
The original Preface (to the 2 volume 1837 edition) is included, as is the list of Co. Kildare Subscribers and the accompanying map of Kildare (from the Atlas which accompanied the 2 vols).
I do hope that researchers and enthusiasts find it useful. It is part of the process of making primary and secondary material available via the Internet which has been undertaken by the History and Family Research Centre to encourage people to engage in local history and genealogy as well as increasing accessibility to the Local Studies Collection in Kildare County Library.
Kildare History and Family Research Centre