What Dr Eamon Lankford started as a small research project on Cape Clear 33 years ago grew to include the mapping of place names all over Co Cork.
The massive archive, which comprises a staggering 115 volumes, records an estimated 250,000 individual names for sites in hundreds of townlands in each of the 23 baronies across Cork. The place names have also been mapped to show where they were used.
Dr Lankford said the project was testimony to all who had supplied names to the survey team, and to those who had worked on the project over the years.
President Mary McAleese was in Cork yesterday to witness the handover of the collection to the county library service.
She described Dr Lankford’s work as visionary and praised him for his dedication to the “formidable” survey over the years.
“Academically the results are utterly superb. It’s a unique repository. The information in it is absolutely priceless. But then there is what it does for our own spirit, and our pride in our people – all that richness, places that will not now be forgotten, their story held for future generations. They are part of our national story,” she said.
Survey director Mairead Ní Loingsigh said the names provide a valuable snapshot of a townland, a community, a parish and ultimately of a county. “The names are not mere fossils, however, nor are they just the preserve of academics and antiquarians – the majority of them are living names which serve a current function,” she said.
The place names were recorded from both oral and documented sources.
The Place Names Archive will be housed in the new Cork County Library next to County Hall, which is due to open soon.
Meanwhile, a two-year Cork City Place Names Survey is under way and the public has been invited to help. Please telephone 021-4274110 or contact www.placenames.ie