Guidelines for use

The following is intended merely as a general guide to commencing an inquiry using the search boxes. For a more detailed insight into the database and its structure, the data-fields and their content, and the various terms and abbreviations used, it may be helpful to consult the introduction, glossary and abbreviation pages, and the field-key. The latter explains (amongst other matters) that the ‘Sources’ field is for hagiographical sources relating to founding saints associated with the site, while ‘Recorded history’ is for documentary evidence concerning subsequent developments at the site, or later members of the community.

A simple inquiry might be retrieval of the file relating to an individual site. The first step for all inquiries is to enter a key word into the ‘Quick Search’ box.

For many less prominent sites such as Taghadoe (Co Kildare) only a single match is returned. In the case of Clonkeen (Co Dublin), there are 17 matches but the Dublin site should still be readily identifiable. On the other hand, initial inquiries regarding certain major foundations can produce a plethora of options. For example, Clonmacnoise (Co Offaly) engenders 110 matches — including all recorded churches in that diocese, along with many more which belonged to, or were otherwise associated with, the foundation of St Ciarán.

If large numbers of matches are returned and the site sought is not readily identifiable, the user may take the second step, involving the ‘Advanced Search’ boxes. In the case of Clonmacnoise, entering the placename under townland is sufficient to reduce the number of matches to one. At that stage, click on the ‘foundation’ field (which gives the foundation-name in Old Irish form where attested, or where readily reconstructible), and the complete set of records relating to the foundation concerned will appear.

Complex inquiries can be greatly varied; these all involve taking the second step of using the ‘Advanced Search’ boxes, while closely observing the responses generated. For example, how many sites in Ireland were known as Clonkeen? The simple inquiry above, searching for the Dublin site, produced 17 matches, but two of these (Cromoge and Ruscach) appeared only because they had some connection with a certain Clonkeen and so may be omitted from the list. Interestingly, entering the Old Irish Cluain Chaín in the ‘foundation’ field produces 31 matches (with many appearing for very curious reasons), two of which deserve to be added to the list — Cluain Chaín, Co Wexford, the Anglicised form of which is Cloongeen, and Cluain Chaín – the name of a foundation in the parish of Rahan, Co Offaly.

Use can be made of various combinations of fields to find, e.g. all foundations, or all female foundations in a certain barony, county or diocese; male foundations with e.g. round towers (rd twr – see abbreviations page) throughout a given province, sites in a given district with graveyards which feature raised areas, or foundations throughout a province associated with a particular lineage (e.g. Dál Messin Corb). Note that in seeking to identify the foundations within a given area associated with a particular saint (e.g. sites in Co Kildare associated with Báetán), separate inquiries may be required firstly under ‘Documented association’ to find sites where associaton with the saint is documented in hagiographical sources (for Báetán in Co Kildare this inquiry gives three sites), and secondly under ‘Traditional association’, where the link claimed is dependent on e.g. a placename or the dedication of a well (for Báetán in Co Kildare this adds one further site).