Irish Place Names

By Connie Lenzen, CG

A column written for the 31 July 2003 issue of the Vancouver Columbian.

A Columbian reader asks for help in locating Nidot, Ireland. She says, "Great Grandmother, Margaret Garvey's death certificate says her father's name was M. Kennedy from Nidot, Ireland and her mother's name was Johanna Walch from Nidot, Ireland. I was always told my people were from Dingle. Apparently the family Bible shows this much. But the death certificate says Nidot."

We need to keep an open mind when we do Irish place name searches. The location name could be one of six administrative divisions: county, barony, civil parish, diocese, poor law union or probate district.

There are two Internet searches that I make when I want to find a place. The first is, and the second is the Family History Library Catalog, ( There were no "hits" for Nidot on either site. This makes one wonder if the place name was spelled correctly. Could someone have found the word in a letter? Perhaps the handwriting was difficult to read, and a "best guess" was made as to the spelling.

Two gazetteers help us locate information about Irish places.

One is A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland by Samuel Lewis and originally published in 1837. A copy of the 1984 reprint is located at the Genealogical Forum of Oregon library in Portland. The library offers a "Free First Monday" for researchers who want to use their facility. The "Dictionary" is also available as a Family Tree Maker CD.

Unfortunately, we cannot find Nidot in this book.

We have a second place name: Dingle. The Dictionary tells us quite a bit about Dingle, right down to the name of the churches and when market was held.

The other gazetteer is "The IreAtlas Townland DataBase" located at This database allows us to list all of the civil parishes, poor law unions, and townlands in a particular area. Again, there is no place name that looks like or sounds like Nidot.

When we don't find what we need, it is like the game of Monopoly where we draw the card that tells us to go to jail and loose a turn. It's disappointing to see everyone else move on, but it gives us time to think.

When the objective of a search is to locate the Irish origin of the family, collecting American documents gives us clues to make the linkage. These documents include censuses, church records, and obituaries. Our reader should "go back to square one," and make sure she has all of these.

If you are interested in other helpful articles, go to my Columns page.

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Connie Lenzen, CGSM

CG, Certified Genealogist, is a service mark of the Board for Certification of Genealogists, used under license by board certified genealogists after periodic evaluation, and the board name is registered in the US Patent & Trademark Office.