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Cartography and culture : achievements of the Irish Ordnance Survey Memoir Scheme 1824-2842

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  • "The Ordnance Survey was more than a map-making body, although it was, in this respect, exceptional. It also involved the memoir scheme, an in-depth ethnographical and historical survey, by outstanding scholars and administrators, of the Irish people, their culture, folklore, religious practices, oral histories, and social structures in the first half of the nineteenth century, and before much was swept away by the great famine, modernization, and Anglicisation. Although only one volume of the memoirs was ever pblished (Templemore, Co. Derry), memoir reports for the rest of the county remain in manuscript. This thesis, based on the vast Ordnance Survey archive (in the National Library, National Archives, and Royal Irish Academy), and influenced by modern theory, and methodology, illustrates the wealth and significance of memoir researches. It reveals an Ireland quite different from that of current Irish historiography and its political preoccupations. Beneath the well - chronicled hegemonic institutions is a world of inherited beliefs, genealogy, aristocratic family history, traditional religion, now in decline; a landscape full of antiquities, but now being destroyed by population pressure and modernization. In cultural terms, here is the waning and death of the Irish middle ages, more than two centuries later than conventional historians place these great changes. Although this thesis cannot be a comprehensive study of the Ordnance Survey memoir scheme (which involved a diverse range of subjects including geology, zoology, botany, as well as history, topography, society, economy, and culture), it is, I believe, a critical assessment of the cultural and historical work of one of the most important intellectual endeavours of the nineteenth century, one which had profound implications for nationality."

  • "Cartography and culture : achievements of the Irish Ordnance Survey Memoir Scheme 1824-2842"