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Collection preview

Tim Robinson Archive

Update Jan 2018

  • Townland index is completely digitised and available from our Digital Repository
  • Digital exhibition launched (Physical exhibition as a digital version)
  • Digital Mapping launched (Explore the townlands related to a map)


The Archive

The Library acquired Tim Robinson’s archive on the landscape of the West of Ireland in 2013. The archive documents a unique project to map and interpret the Galway Bay area, with specific studies of Aran, the Burren and Connemara. The project began in 1972, and grew into an enterprise that defined the course of Robinson’s career over the next 40 years. The archive’s focal points are:

  • An index describing 567 town-lands in Aran and Connemara. This draws together information on the language of local place-names, folktales, and historical, geological, archaeological and botanical information from each town-land.
  • 489 research and draft maps
  • Manuscript material, which builds a fuller picture of the evolution of Robinson’s landscape work. It includes first editions of his maps and books, reference material, field notebooks, drawings, photographs, correspondence with experts in the fields of the Irish language, archaeology, geology, botany, and more.

To discover more about the contents of the archive, you can search through our archives catalogue. Please note that the maps and manuscript material described above are only available in their original, paper format. Unless otherwise specified, these can be consulted in the Archives and Special Collections Reading Room.

Digital Mapping

The Library has a Digital Exhibitions platform, with features such as timelines and maps that allow us to present archival material in a more engaging way.

To visually represent the geographical spread of Tim Robinson’s work, we are working on a project that directly connects his maps with his town-lands index, allowing a user simultaneous digital access to both. We used geographical data points made available by the Open Street Mapping community to plot the shapes of each town-land on an Open Street Map, and created an overlay from Robinson’s maps of these areas. Each shape is connected to a thumbnail image of the corresponding title card for that town-land, and a description of what else in the archive relates to that town-land. A user interested in finding out more can click on the thumbnail, where they will be brought to the Digital Repository in order to consult the digitised items more thoroughly.

Because all of the data and platforms used in the project are Open Access, we are committed to enabling transformative uses of the archive, and we are enthusiastic about connecting it with other datasets that will offer supplementary information.

To look at the work that has taken place so far, please visit our Digital Exhibitions platform and hover over the areas of the map to highlight a town-land.

The Digital Archive

The Library has recently digitised the first part of the archive described above, the townlands index, and made these items openly available from our Digital Repository.

The townlands index was prioritized for digitisation because it offers an entry point to the archive, providing a glimpse into Robinson’s methodology. Preliminary digitisation work was carried out with thanks to support from the University’s Centre for Irish Studies, who were awarded a grant to fund an intern for the Robinson archive.

The remaining index cards have now been digitised in-house by the Library, and were added to the Digital Repository, where they are available.