A Case Study in Irish House & Land Records


Annette Kapple

A couple weeks ago I discovered an old photo posted at Ancestry.com of a house I looked at on my visit in 2019. This house is on the land of Patrick Mullen who was born about 1797, and died in May 1887 in Pollaturick, Milltown, Co. Galway, Ireland. This Patrick Mullen is my 3rd great-grandfather.

When I visited the family townland of Pollaturick in 2019 I spoke with a couple neighbors who agreed that Michael Mullen, one of Patrick’s sons, lived in the house that was in the photo I found at Ancestry. The house is still there but is now empty. I wondered if that was a house built by his father, Patrick, because for many years there was only one house on the land in that general area, according to ordnance maps.

I remembered I had overlaid a recent map showing the current house over an 1839 ordnance map. The map shows a house behind the current house. This made me wonder if the house sitting on the property was the same house but the 1839 map is incorrect?

This also brought up something I didn’t consider. My ancestor Patrick Mullen Jr. married in 1880 and continued to live on the family land while his father and sister Bridget, and brother Michael, were living on the property.. Did they live in the same house?  In Jan 1887 Michael Mullen married. Did he build the house still standing on the property around that year or did he take over his father Patrick’s house after his death in May of that year?

There currently are two houses on the Patrick Mullen Sr. property. A concrete house on the property was thought by neighbors to belong to descendants of Patrick Mullen Jr., my 2nd great-grandfather.  When it was built is unknown, but this fact seemed to suggest the Patrick and Michael Mullen brothers lived in different houses, and these houses referred to above were the two houses.

I decided to do more research on the plot originally owned by Patrick Mullen Sr. because of the questions that now occurred to me.

Goals of research

  • Who built the two houses now on the property?
  • When were they built?
  • Who lived in each of the houses through the years
  • How was the land divided between Michael and Patrick after their father died?

Records used to answer these questions

  • Griffith’s Valuation
  • OSI Maps (Ordnance Survey Ireland)
  • Revision a.k.a Canceled books
  • Deeds from the Dublin Registry of Deeds (accessed at FamilySearch.org online)
  • Land folios
  • 1901 and 1911 Censuses Ireland

The houses in question

The house below appears to be constructed of stone? The question is when was it built, and who built it? Michael Mullen and his descendants lived in the house, but the question is did his father build it or did he?

Pollaturick Cottage

This house is concrete. Probably built by someone in the Patrick Mullen and Mary Huane line, but when and by whom is unknown.

Pollaturick Cottage

Pollaturick townland map

Map of the Pollaturick townland with the valuation lot numbers.

Pollaturick map 1840

Research in records begins

I consulted Griffith’s valuation again to confirm the map number and number of acres in order to verify I was looking at the correct property on the ordnance maps, and that this was the same property later owned by his sons. The valuation was created for tax collection purposes. The list I looked at was created in the 1850s. It’s not the original handwritten list but instead a printed version that was created for the appeals process. After the valuation was complete people, and organizations, could come forward with a  dispute or correction to the valuations.
A great YouTube video explaining how to research land records using Griffith’s Valuation records is

Creating Connections Webinar Playback August 2020 Griffith Valuations.

Before the valuation could be made maps of properties to be valued for tax purposes had to be created. The military conducted the land survey in the 1830s and 1840s.
The first map showing a house on our Pollaturick lot 1 was produced in 1839. I overlaid the map again on a modern map using the GeoHive National Townland and Historical Map Viewer. The drawing of the house is fairly far from the current house on the property.
I decided to test the theory that the house currently on the property is the same house as the one captured in 1839, even though the overlaid images don’t match exactly. I overlaid the old and new images at known ancient building sites, like Glendalough. I discovered that the overlays could be off sometimes substantially. They were generally a little closer than the image is above, though..
The house still standing appears to be newer than 1839, however. I believe it may have had a concrete roof with thatching over it?
I couldn’t determine, however, this absolutely isn’t a modernized version of the older house.
I noticed some more maps were at the GeoHive map viewer I hadn’t seen before. The 1893 ordnance survey map showed some new buildings. Two buildings now appear behind the house still on the property. The larger of the two facing in the same direction could have been a house with outbuildings attached?

1893 ordnance survey map

Does the possible house outbuilding combo line up with the house location in 1839?
Below is an overlay of the 1839 ordnance map with the 1893 map. The buildings appear to be side by side. The north walls of these buildings appear to line up . Since the newer building appears to touch the old house this building could include the 1839 house?

overlay of the 1839 ordnance map with the 1893 map

There is another ordnance map from 1913 which is basically the same as the one above. It does seem to include a building, said to be an old house, it may be what looks like an extension on the possible house combination out building on the 1913 map. It seems to be south and to the left of the larger building. The 1913 map seems to sometimes attach out buildings that weren’t attached. Just because close buildings appear attached in 1913 doesn’t mean they were.

ordnance map from 1913

Below is a photo of the building that may have been a house. It may have been in ruins in 1893 and was left off that survey. It’s facing in the wrong direction to be the 1830s house. The way this building was constructed makes it look quite old.

Ruins of house

The cart house that is currently in ruins is also left off the 1893 map, but is included in the 1913 map. It may have been built after 1913 or just not included?

Cart House

One thing jumped out at me when examining the maps is the fact the second house on the property isn’t on either the 1893 or 1913 maps? It’s a prefabricated concrete house so I figured it wasn’t as old as the other house. In the image below you don’t see a drawing of the crosshatched building when you overlay images (the crosshatches mean the building had a roof). There are buildings showing up on a neighbors property. These kinds of houses were built in the late 19th and into the 20th century. If the Patrick and Michael Mullen families lived in separate houses before 1913 the concrete house wasn’t one of them.


We know now that none of the families lived in this house before 1913. The unidentified large building on the property most likely was part of the second house that would have been on the property earlier.

What do the Censuses tell us?

According to the 1901 and 1911 Censuses for Ireland both of the Patrick Mullen Sr.’s sons, Patrick and Michael, were living in the townland of Pollaturick. I compared the buildings in Pollaturick on the maps with the census information. I don’t see a property that isn’t associated with a family on the census. The revision books don’t show either brother as head of household on another landholding.
In 1901 the brothers Michael and Patrick are described as living in a house with 3 front windows with 3 rooms, and 2 out buildings. The older house still standing on the property has 3 windows in the front. The newer concrete house only has 2.
In 1911 the brothers were still living in houses by the same description but they both state they have 5 out buildings now. Even if there are two houses on the property at the time I believe the brothers shared some of the farm buildings.
According to the 1911 Census both brothers had the following farm buildings: a cow house, piggery, a fowl house, and barn. Two building descriptions are different however. If the list is correct Patrick has a cart house, and Michael had a stable.

out buildings

The 1911 Census also states the men are living in separate houses. Does this mean they were? Probably but I can’t confirm that. It does point to one of the other buildings on the ordinance survey being a house.

number of families in each house


In 1901 Patrick and Michael received deeds to their father’s land. The 57 acres mentioned in the valuation was now split between the two brothers. Their father died in 1887 and likely had a lease for the property which they remained on after his death. As long as they paid the rent, which was usually due May 1st and November 1st, they were allowed to remain on the land. When land reforms allowed them to own this property they applied to do so and received title. The deeds say nothing about buildings on the property.

Patrick Mullen Deeds

Revision/Canceled books

The revision books were an extension of the valuation books. Updates were needed to Griffith’s Valuation in order to record new owners of properties, and to update taxes due. These books are the most complete surviving record of the heads of households in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Oddly when Patrick Mullen Sr. died in 1887 there is no sign of his name being crossed out or other names added? The brothers had title to the property in 1901. It appears it wasn’t until about 1910 that his name was crossed out and the property is shown as split.

Patrick and Michael Mullen revision list covering 1907-1919

I’m not sure if the Patrick Mullen listed in the books after 1887 was supposed to be him, or was it his son? Patrick Jr. was older than Michael and may have inherited the lease? Or no one reported the change of the head of household?
There is no sign of a change in the value due to a 2nd house being built on the property until the land was split. Apparently there were two houses but that was never noted.
What we can infer from the revision lists is the land was split up and not shared. I think the buildings were shared but not the land. If you look at the column with the description of the land lots, 1a was split into 1 Aa B Patrick’s land, and 1 Ca D Michael’s land. The capital letters represent the land being carved into those sections. Capital letters represent land lot sections. The lowercase letter represents the building on the property, the house. There should have been a notation for a 1a and 1b if there were two houses on the property. The land and property were surveyed in 1893 when the 2nd house would have been there. Not sure why this possible second house doesn’t appear in the valuation books?

Revision List

The brothers could have chosen to share all of section one in common and not broken the land up. If that were the case the entry would show two lower case letters bracketed. Here is an example, below. Lot 14 is shared by Catherine Greany and Bridget Lyons. They share 24 acres. They live in separate houses, a and b. Each of their houses has a slightly different value.


Sometimes you’ll see a first name in parentheses. These names were added when two men in a townland had the same names. They wanted to differentiate between men with the same names. The problem in my family is there were two Michaels in Pollaturick, uncle and nephew, and both of their father’s were named Patrick. The nickname Pat may have been used by Patrick Jr. to differentiate him from his father in records.

michael and michael

I haven’t found a record stating whether Patrick Mullen Sr. informally divided the land between his sons or the division happened another way after his death?

Division of the land

The wife of a cousin who had visited Pollaturick knew mutual cousins on the Huane side of the family who still lived in that townland. She contacted this family for me and asked about my Mullen family; that was back in 2006. This person said a cousin of mine still owned the family land there. I was under the impression this was a cousin descended from my great-great grandparents Patrick Mullen and Mary Huane. I didn’t know until now that she was actually a granddaughter of Patrick Mullen and Mary Huane. She is still alive and turned 100 years old last June. Someone told me when I visited that someone connected with the land was in a nursing home, which is correct. She is in a nursing home.
The cousin in Pollaturick said that this granddaughter of Patrick and Mary was the last Mullen owning land in Pollaturick. Technically that is true, her maiden name was Mullen, but descendants of Michael Mullen still own part of his property.
I was able to make contact for the first time with a  3rd cousin once removed who is descended from Michael on Facebook after posting a query last week. They explained the family still own the older house on the property.
I purchased a book called “Tracing Your Irish Ancestors Through Land Records: A Guide for Family Historians”, by Chris Paton. I found a link in the book to a site, https://www.landdirect.ie/, where you can purchase land folios. The folios contain a description of the property and the name of the owner or owners. The site has a map which you use to locate the property in order to find the correct folio. By clicking on the section of the property with the newer concrete house on it I was able to get the folio number for the property. The folio cost 5 euros to buy. The owner according to the folio is the  granddaughter of Patrick Mullen and Mary Huane.
Clicking on a link called highlight all plans I was able to see how the Mullen land was divided. Oddly the sections aren’t adjoining. I’m guessing the land wasn’t equally good throughout the property, and they tried to divide the good and bad sections fairly.
These are the sections that belonged to Patrick Mullen Jr:

land division Patrick Mullen

The sections below were Michael’s. His family, apparently, only now owns the property the house sits on which is why there is a gap where the house sits, I believe. Correct me if I’m wrong? Otherwise the sections fit together like puzzle pieces.

The land in other townlands that Michael and Patrick owned are listed in the folio for the granddaughter of Patrick Mullen. This is because this folio contains information from the old folio from 1901. The official notes state the description information came from folio GY1812 which was the folio number recorded on Patrick Mullen’s 1901 deed.

Mary Ellen Thornton additional land

Takeaways from this research project

My Facebook newly found cousin provided some information about the house her family owns. She said it didn’t have electricity until the 1970s. She confirmed what I thought, the window on the side of the house was for a loft room. When I visited the Bunratty Castle and Folk Park I noticed some of the houses had loft rooms. I was thinking at the time what a clever way to add rooms to a small space.

Loft Room (Bunratty Castle)

Room in house

Side Angle of Pollaturick cottage

Did I reach any of my goals?

I did discover how the Mullen land was divided between brothers Patrick and Michael. I learned the newer house on the property was built after 1913 and is currently owned by Patrick Mullen Jr. and Mary Huane’s granddaughter. The older house was built before 1893, most likely, and is currently owned by the descendants of Michael Mullen through his daughter Mary Walsh’s line.
I haven’t been able to find out exactly who built the houses on the Mullen property. I am leaning towards thinking there were two houses near one another, one belonging to Michael Mullen and the other to his brother Patrick Mullen. The Patrick Mullen house is no longer there. I don’t know where their father lived in his final days? His daughter Bridget was present at his death in 1887. Were my great-great grandparents living in a house of their own or did they live with Patrick Sr.? Still don’t know? I did discover buildings I didn’t know were there by looking at the ordnance maps.
If I’m ever able to return to Ireland I will visit the Registry of Deeds in Dublin where there might be additional information about the property and houses.
Original Source


This page was added on 10/02/2022.

Comments about this page

  • Hi, my name is Mackenzie Walsh, my grandfather is Patrick Walsh, his father and mother were Patrick Walsh and Mary Mullen, and her father was Michael Mullen.

    So anyway the house with the red door was my grandfather’s mother’s house. I’m really not too familiar with all the details because I was a kid visiting Ireland and I have so much family I didn’t know who I was related to and how haha.

    But anyway my mother grew up visiting there when it was still lived in I believe and I grew up in the 90s as a kid going there every summer for a family bonfire, where we would burn all the shite we had lying around. The cows would always come to warm themselves by the fire, and then be immediately repulsed by the smell of the burning tires and stampede away. I often enjoyed jumping on the hay bales they put in front of the house. Eventually we would start a fire inside the house and hang out there all night, until it was time to walk back to the new house, while you hoped that you would not catch a stinging nettle on the way, or fall into the stream, or step in a cow pie.

    Anyway I’ve got lots of pictures and memories of the house and probably could connect you to someone who knows a whole lot more about the house then myself. I think you are missing some information due to Patrick Walsh marrying into the Mullen family. There is a bunch of Walsh’s in the area that descend from the Mullens. I hope you get this even though this article is old!

    By Mackenzie Walsh (28/11/2023)
  • Fascinating work Annette. I will try using some of your methods in my own family history work.
    Patrick Donelan

    By Patrick Donelan (17/02/2022)

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