After having the IreAtlas Townland Database online for over 6 years, it has become very evident that the one issue that is a major roadblock to most researchers is the issue associated with spelling. I will not go into detail here in this page as to what has caused these spelling issues, my intent is to make the researcher aware that they exist and that they MUST be considered when you do not get the expected results from your search. To add further support to this statement, I can tell you that more than 95% of the requests that come in to me for assistance in finding a researchers "elusive" townland, have resulted in the townland being spelled different from the way that the researcher entered it into the search engine.
This issue of spelling was known when the IreAtlas townland database was designed, and it was because of this issue that the search form has been designed with the dropdown selectable choices for the "Search Method". An observation that I can pass along to the researcher that is using this database is that the spelling issues that I have been asked to assist with are generally small spelling differences that many times only involve one or two letters in the submitted placename. This condition can easily be worked around by entering just a few of the letters in the spelling of the placename from the beginning or the end of the placename. Sometimes as few as 1 or 2 letters may be required to get around the spelling issue. If you enter a few letters from the beginning of the placename, then you would select "At BEGINNING of field" from the "Search Method" drop down menu. If you enter a few letters from the ending of the placename, then you would select "At END of field". To make your task a little easier, you should make sure that you click the small "Sort By" box next to the Townland field. This will order the list of returned townlands alphabetically and allow you to scroll through the returned list in an orderly fashion.
The researcher should be aware that this method of searching will return a much larger list than trying to search using the exact spelling, however it is far better to get a list of possible townlands that you can select from than to get no list at all when you use the exact spelling and your spelling turns out to be wrong.
The following is a few examples from county Roscommon that you can use as a guide that will help to demonstrate these spelling issues
|USER'S PLACENAME||DATABASE SPELLING||ENTER FOR BEGINNING||ENTER FOR ENDING||COMMENTS|
|Loughglyn||Loughglinn||"lough"||"glyn"||"glyn" would not find the placename,|
but "lough" would
|Gralla||Grallagh||"gral"||"la"||"la" would not find the placename,|
but "gral" would
|Cloonacarow||Cloonacarrow||"cloon"||"carow"||"carow" would not find the placename,|
but "cloon" would
|Lislee||Lislea||"lis"||"lee"||"lee" would not find the placename,|
but "lis" would
I can not emphasize enough the number of times that the simple spelling issues have resulted in an email coming into my mailbox. It is with deep regret that I must inform the research community that I will no longer be able to respond to these type of requests for assistance. As mentioned above, the search engine has the ability to perform the search even when you are not sure of the complete spelling. The administrative tasks associated with the normal maintenance on the Leitrim-Roscommon server have reached a level that make it impossible for me to respond to these requests for assistance.....there is only one of me, and so many of you!
I wish you all good luck with your research