Book Review: Byrne’s Dictionary of Irish Local History

This week’s review is one you may not have heard of it. Joseph Byrne’s Dictionary of Irish Local History is not a new publication – it came out in 2004.

This is a fantastic reference book. It may not be something you pick up every day, but when you do, you find the rabbit hole deep and wide. It’s particularly strong on Irish words, ecclesiastical terms, the old legal system and its terminology, measurements, heraldry and geography. There’s a fair amount of actual Irish history too with explanations of the Encumbered Estates Act (like NAMA in the 19th century), various Home Rule attempts, the Penal Laws (one of the major reasons why tracing Catholics prior to the 19th century is difficult) and the development of education.

There are also 18 pages of bibliography, references and web resources, though as befits a book published 18 years, this last section could do with a major update.

Two very enthusiastic thumbs up from me! It’s available from Mercier Press as an ebook or print on demand, but I found my copy secondhand in excellent condition.

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