Wednesday, April 03, 2019

(Part One) Search your Surname on Barry Griffin's excellent maps

This website is attracting a lot of interest just now, and rightly so. It is a fantastic resource. Have a dig around it for yourself. One interesting aspect is the mapping of the language details on the censuses, which have also been mapped. Below is the Thompson one for Irish-only speakers.

I am going to stick my neck out a little and reiterate the hunch I expressed here a while back in this post. I think that a lot of the country folk whose understanding of themselves is recorded in the forms were aware that they didn't speak 'proper' English and so they chose the only other alternative that the form provided - 'Irish'.

My hunch is that a significant proportion of them were in fact not Irish speakers, but were Ulster-Scots speakers. And in the case of this map, which shows my Thompson ancestors exactly where I still live here on the Ards Peninsula, that is 100% undoubtedly the case.

That is not to diminish the cultural importance of the Irish language in general, but caution must be exercised in citing the censuses as authoritative linguistic research sources.