When you ask someone from Ireland where they are from, you might just get an answer that's the equivalent of "Happy Acres". When you try to look it up, you eventually figure out that it's a named place that's only a hundred acres in size, of which Ireland contains tens of thousands. It's like someone from the US naming their subdivision or apartment complex and expecting it to make sense to a foreigner.
Exactly Don and very indicative for finding families and communities and continues to provide me the most important clues to family linkage, For the benefit of others the smallest mainland Townland in Ireland is only 1.25 acres whereas the largest is 6762 acres, each of those Townlands mainly belong to one Parish, each Parish to one Barony, each Barony to one County, each County to one Province and each of the four provinces making up the Island of Ireland and here’s the beauty;
THESE HISTORICAL DIVISIONS PRE-DATING THE NORMAN INVASION REMAIN MOSTLY UNCHANGED AND ARE STILL REFERRED TO IN LAND REGISTRY TODAY.
I have 90% of the 65K+ Townlands geocoded with boundary maps so when you say you are from "Happy Acres" I would want to know County and Parish, then the pin goes in the map. I genuinely feel sorry for my US colleagues as I cannot find reliable division maps over time for some of the limited US research I do. On top of that USA is such a vast country with many featureless areas, limited divisional mapping and ever changing boundaries so when I find where an ancestor actually lived I quickly stick a pin in the map and care little for how different people refer to that location, what is important to me is the location and time frame for identifying other possible matches.
Other Countries will have other division systems and each researcher must try and identify what is the most reliable land division system in each of those countries over time. I don't see it as the job of RM to try and force users to record the location according to any standard but it is useful that RM strives to assist users towards some sort of identifiable recording standard rather than just entering some freehand description of the place.
I cannot expect Rootsmagic to become the Country division expert in all Countries and also satisfy the many and varied preferences of user place notation but I do expect a much enhanced and comprehensive geocoding UI to help those who want to geocode Places and Place Details to do it with ease and embrace any available online assistance. Administrative districts merge and change, City boundaries expand to envelop distinct districts and communities and so it goes on, generally people do not move as a result of this, cemeteries are not uprooted and Churches are still in the same building so the pin in the map remains the most reliable factual indicator for me. Now if you take those little geocode numbers and send them off to a search engine or online mapping utility you will be returned with the modern perception of that location address, if you do the same in another Country you will likely get the result in a different language, if Countries merge, change their name or political subdivisions change sending those little numbers off in the future will return a different and updated result.
I also believe trying to follow modern place names, administrative districts etc. for the benefit of report readers is folly, the place should be recorded as it was and not in some inaccurate form to satisfy the reader. I will find no ancestors where I live, nor will I find any mention of where I live in Church records and that is because the name of where I live only came into being in 1958 when the areas encompassing 7 villages were merged and given a NEW name. Now report readers will find that very comfortable but will generally ask for a more specific location within this borough. Now a few extra fields in the Place List would allow users to also record modern postal and administrative districts and should also allow the options to report is whatever (modern or ancient) format the report writer desires, above all else the pin in the map in the important indicator for me, names are added quality.
And, of course, 'Ireland' might be used at times to refer to any part or all of:
- the island of Ireland (the geographic place which include both of the following);
- the Republic of Ireland/Irish Republic (the autonomous State and full member of the European Union; but not part of the United Kingdom); and/or
- the Province of Northern Ireland (which still remains a part of the United Kingdom, but has its own devolved parliament (when it is not suspended!)).
mjashby, I always refer and stress the importance of the pin in the map, political, administrative and other changes through time are not important to my research. For the purposes of my research Ireland is an island of 32 Counties, 4 provinces and the further sub divisions down to Townland, the colour of the flag or what office you pay your property tax to does not help my research.
Your last line is a constant embarrassment to everyone who lives here but again does not affect my research