Walsh Kemmis Map Collection Donated to Laois Digital Archive,
The Laois Digital Archive, an initiative of Laois Library Service is delighted to receive the
donation of digitised maps of the Ballykilcavan Estate by the Walsh Kemmis family. The Walsh Kemmis estate maps are held privately by the Walsh-Kemmis family. In 2018 David Walsh
Kemmis facilitated the listing of the entire collection, and the digitisation of part thereof, for
publication in Arnold Horner’s book Mapping Laois. This was published in 2019 by Wordwell
Books, and the book and the research that went into it including digitising the Ballykilcavan
maps were coordinated by Laois Heritage Office with funding from the Heritage Council. To
further enhance public access to this important collection, David has generously donated the
digital copies to Laois Local Studies. The maps are currently available to view on the Local
Studies website www.laoislocalstudies.ie.
At the donation event on the Ballykilcavan Estate, David Walsh Kemmis said:
“Lisa and I are delighted to be able to share these maps, and to have fantastic digital copies
made of them. We really enjoy looking at them, and we hope that lots of other people will to.”
The digital map collection consists of a volume of thirteen maps from 1855 and a map of the
Ballykilcavan Estate from 1754. The early map was produced by Carlow based surveyor William
Thornton and covers the 1,800 Irish acres of the Ballykilcavan Estate of Major Hunt Walsh. This
large detailed map is accompanied by a reference table of 53 items and includes sketches of
various houses, a windmill, a mill, a tower, ‘cotter’s crofts’ and a deerpark. It provides a
detailed representation of the area, predating Ordnance Survey maps by 80 years. The volume
of maps by William Coughlan includes a map of the entire estate covering 13 townland units,
with an additional 11 maps featuring either one or two of the townlands in greater detail.
It also contains a plan of sewerage at Ballykilcavan.
Maps are a snapshot in time and this collection captures the Ballykilcavan Estate as it was in the
mid 18th and 19th centuries. The 1754 map depicts the area as it was almost a century before
the social and economic upheaval of the Great Famine, whereas the set of maps from the 1850s
captures the area in the post-famine era.
Estate maps are a wonderful resource for the local historian and interested amateur alike. They
record buildings, fieldnames, placenames and geographic feature that have long disappeared or
altered over time. They indicate the development of land usage in a particular area, providing
an insight into the lives of tenants and landowners. Laois townlands covered by the Walsh Kemmis Collection include Ballyduff, Ballykilcavan, Bawn, Binbawn, Blackford, Curraclone,
Drumneen, Garrans, Inch, Kylebeg, Milland, Moneyferick and Park.
Laois Local Studies is based in Laois County Library HQ in Portlaoise. It was established to
collect, preserve and make available for reference, material relating to the history and heritage
of County Laois. It is home to the Laois Collection, a specialist collection on the local, social,
political, economic and geographic history of the county.
Laois Local Studies actively acquires publications and records of private origin, in line with our
Acquisition Policy. Private donations have greatly enhanced the Laois Collection and enriched
the understanding of Laois heritage. Laois Local Studies would like to acknowledge the
generosity David Walsh-Kemmis and the generosity of the many individuals, families and
organisations who have donated material over the years, including local historians, artists,
photographers, schools, businesses, organisations, clubs, societies and collectors.
If you have material you would like to donate please contact Laois Local Studies to discuss the
Donation usually involves full transfer of ownership, which may or may not
include copyright ownership.
If you would like to make material available to the public, without the obligation of outright
donation, the material can be digitised as part of the Local Studies Digitisation Project. This
allows items to be made available to the public through the Laois Digital Archive, for purposes
of education, research and enjoyment. Ownership and custody of the physical item is not
transferred, although permission to reproduce and display, as outlined above, is required.
For further information, contact Laois Local Studies at 05785 94985 and/or email
firstname.lastname@example.org. The Laois Digital Archive is supported by Creative Ireland Laois as
part of the Creative Ireland Programme (2017 – 2022) in partnership with Laois County Council