One of the major sources I use after I’ve exhausted church and tax records for an area are the landlord papers. These are termed “estate papers” and are basically the private papers of the local estate where the tenants leased and rented their homes and farms. In these papers I look for lease agreements, and especially rent books. They can be deposited anywhere or not preserved at all. Remember, these are private family papers, and historically there would be little reason for the landed families to think they would ever be used for genealogical purposes.
The problem has always been identifying where papers have been deposited. Once you know the landlord or land owner of a townland, then you are ready to actually begin the search for any deposited papers. The job is easier for western Ireland with the “Landed Estates Database”:
This is an online database of all Landed Estates in Connacht and Munster provinces: www.landedestates.ie If this link doesn’t work, then try the longer one: http://landedestates.nuigalway.ie:8080/LandedEstates/jsp The database covers: Galway, Mayo, Roscommon and Sligo in Connaught Province; and Clare, Cork, Kerry, Limerick,
Tipperay and Waterford in Munster Province. It contains references to over 1,450 houses and 1,650 estates. The database is maintained by the Moore Institute for Research in the Humanities and Social Studies at the National University of Ireland, Galway.
The “Landed Estates Database” provides information, and pictures on the estate, the estate houses, documentary sources, and a list of estate records from about 1700 through 1914. While not necessarily aimed at the family historian, the database can be used for our purposes just fine. I use it on a regular base in my client research.
This database brings the landlord-tenant relationship alive as you have hands on information to the estate which affected your ancestors. If rent or lease books survive, then the next step is to have them searched.