The National Archives of Ireland, in partnership with the Genealogical Society of Utah, published a database of the Tithe Applotment Books online on their Genealogy Website.
This has proved to be a frustrating resource for research, in part because of the poor transcription of both personal names, surnames and placenames. The source is also difficult to navigate because some townlands and parishes have been listed in the wrong county. On the National Archives genealogy site it is possible to search this digitsed collection by first name, surname, townland, parish and county. It is also possible to browse the collection by county and then civil parish and then open a list of names found in each townland, which are linked to an image of the relevant page. This method of accessing digital images of each page in a Tithe Book is unwieldy and it is difficult to get an overview of the entire parish to determine whether any pages might be missing or to read the accompanying correspondence that comes with each Tithe Applotment Book, which can often include a list of townlands that were inspected.
A colleague recently gave me a link to the images of the microfilm copies of each Tithe Applotment Book online. These are the source material for the National Archives collection and can be found at the Family Search website. The opening page is a search engine, which is similar to that on the National Archives site. However, below the search engine you will find a link to browse through 66,772 images in this collection. This link will take you to a county list and by clicking through to a specific county you will be presented with a list of civil parishes. You can then view the entire Tithe Book for that parish, from first page to last.
These are copies of the same microfilm found in the National Archives and National Library of Ireland (with the exception of Northern Ireland) and brings me back to the ‘old days’ of Irish genealogy when it was necessary to manually search a microfilm copy of a parish register, Tithe Applotment Book or Griffith’s Valuation for a family name.
The value in being able to review the entire parish is manifold. It is possible to determine the extent of the townlands surveyed for the Tithe in that parish and read the correspondence that accompanied each book. This is important, for example, the civil parish of Donabate in Co. Dublin consists of only two and a half pages and a review of the book demonstrates that really only the major land holders were enumerated, along with one more detailed list of occupiers for the townland of Kilcreagh. The minimal number of names in the database is not a reflection of the true population of the parish. While it is possible to ascertain the limited information recorded for this parish using the National Archives site, a review of the entire microfilm will reassure you that there is not something missing from the original source.
Looking at the county list on the Familysearch site shows links for several counties together, such as Longford, Westmeath or Carlow, Wexford, Wicklow. These are links to a parish that crosses a border between two or even three counties. In some cases this will include a county from Northern Ireland, such as Tyrone, but only because the parish of Urney straddles Donegal and Tyrone. There are no other parishes for Tyrone included in this collection.
Accessing the complete original source is always beneficial. It puts the records in context and illustrates the extent of what exists in the collection. You can avoid the many errors that are introduced when a source is transcribed and indexed, particularly in the case of the Tithe Applotment Books online at the National Archives website.
Where this collection falls down is in the misclassification of parishes into the wrong counties. The parish of Drumlease in Co. Leitrim is missing from the list of parishes in Leitrim. The townlands in this parish can be found listed in the civil parish of Drumgoon, Co. Cavan. In fact the images for Drumgoon actually include Tithe Books for Drumkey, Co. Wicklow, Drumlane, Co. Cavan and Drumlease, Co.Leitrim – with no images for Drumgoon, Co. Cavan. This collection is not perfect, beware of missing and misclassified parishes, but does offer an alternative route for navigating the Tithe Applotment Books online.
Another database for the Tithe Applotment Books online, including Northern Ireland can be found on the Ancestry website. This dataset does not link to images, and is a list of names found in townlands, civil parishes and counties for all Ireland, along with the date of enumeration.
The Census Substitutes collection at Rootsireland.ie also includes Tithe Applotment Books online for counties in Northern Ireland. You will find the name, townland and parish and date of enumeration, but no images or additional details.