Thom’s Directories are quite well known to those who carry out research in Dublin, particularly the Dublin city street listings and trades index. Often unnoticed by the casual user is the quite varied assortment of other useful details that can easily be missed when using online searches or transcripts. In addition the online searches leave out some vital context, and don’t make it easy to search by listing type, or to browse the directories by section.
The best way to check out these additional details is by picking up a Thom’s Directory in a Library, or trying out one of the CDs of Thom’s created by ArchiveBooks/Eneclann, now available on the IrishFamilyHistory website as digital downloads [e.g. 1884 edition].
In this series of articles I’ll show examples of the various sections from Thom’s Directory using the 1865 edition as the main example. First a few basics :
The full Title as shown at the start of the directory is “Thom’s Irish Almanac and Official Directory of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland for the year 1865”.
The founder of Thom’s Directories was Alexander Thom, he was born at Bervie in Kingardineshire, Scotland in 1801 and educated in Edinburgh. He came to Dublin city to work with his father Walter in 1813, where Walter edited and published the Dublin Journal at his business at 15 Parliament Street. Soon after Walter died in 1824 Alexander moved the business to larger premises at 21 North Earl Street and established himself as a Printer and Stationer. The business underwent rapid expansion and in 1839 the business moved to a large four story premises at 87 & 88 Middle Abbey Street where it remained until 1916 when that section of the street was badly damaged during the Easter Rising. The business obtained many Government contracts and in 1876 was appointed Queen’s Printer for Ireland.
His “Thom’s Irish Almanac and Official Directory” was first published in 1844, and received favourable reviews, “..contains more information about Ireland than has been collected about Ireland than has been collected in one volume in any country”, Quarterly Review.
Alexander died at his home at Donnycarney House near Fairview in County Dublin in late December 1879 and buried with his wife Sarah in Mount Jerome cemetery in Harold’s Cross, Dublin. The directory business he started kept running up until the early 2000s, with an online version of the directory, the business ceased trading in around 2013.
Over the years the directories added further detail and increased in size, with more pages and larger page size, in addition some changes were implemented, new sections added, and also some changes in layout.
For Irish research the some of the later sections are the most useful – starting with the Statistics of Ireland. Ordinary people, labourers small farmers etc, are not usually included in the listings, but officials, certain professions, gentry and clergy from all over Ireland are included in the sections such as the Law Directory, Ecclesiastical Listings, County & Borough sections..
Previous directories published for Dublin included Watson’s/Wilson’s directory as part of The Treble Almanac, these included an alphabetical listing of Dublin traders and gentry, and later Pettigrew and Oulton’s Directory which included a street listing and Trades Index and was published from 1834 to 1850.
Contents of 1865 Directory (these will link to each of the articles) :
Introduction & INDEX COLONIAL DIRECTORY United Kingdom PARLIAMENTARY DIRECTORY NAVAL, MILITARY, AND MILITIA DIRECTORY STATISTICS OF IRELAND GOVERNMENT OFFICES’ DIRECTORY UNIVERSITY, SCIENTIFIC, AND LITERARY DIRECTORY MEDICAL DIRECTORY ECCLESIASTICAL DIRECTORY LAW DIRECTORY BANKING DIRECTORY POSTAL DIRECTORY COUNTY AND BOROUGH DIRECTORY POST OFFICE DUBLIN CITY AND COUNTY DIRECTORY And Finally... Later Editions-after 1922