What are Benchmarks?

Fundamental Benchmark Roden Street

Fundamental Benchmark Roden Street

Benchmarks are mapping tools which were used throughout the 19th century all over the world. Benchmarks today look like crows feet carved into stone with three prongs extending from a horizontal line.

They were originally created to align the base of a graduated staff, which is a stick with a series of marks, which would have been in inches back then.  The level is a swivelling telescope which can be set up to turn in a perfectly horizontal plane.  The surveyor reads the number on the staff and compares it with the number on the next staff reading.  This indicates whether one reading is above or below the other. Everything is then reduced back to the benchmark level.

They were placed on permanent structures, usually at the corners of streets in order to accurately calculate the distance between buildings. The height of the benchmark corresponded with the height of nearby benchmarks, all of which were based on a known level in relation to sea level, the guides for this were called Fundamental Benchmarks.  They  were also a tool for later surveyors to use when repositioning in the same place in the future.

Where can you find Benchmarks?

Benchmarks were originally carved into stone which was considered to be permanent at the time. In urban areas they were found quite often on the front wall or the corner of a building or on a bridge, as can be seen in the photographs below. In rural areas they were usually found on roadside houses and farm buildings and stone pillars. Though with redevelopments and road changes the majority of these benchmarks are no longer there.

When were Benchmarks created?

The first ordnance survey, and so the first benchmarks date from 1824, were carried out by the military. By 1900 the last benchmark had been carved into stone but these markings were to aid engineers for almost a century until satellite information was developed to to pin point locations. Each benchmark that remains today is well over 100 years old and a testament to the engineers of our past.

Benchmarks were used to create historic maps such as this one of Limerick click on the “pan” button to move the map around. You can see a collection of other benchmarks around Ireland at Benchmark Sites

You can see the locations of the Benchmarks, Fundamental Stones and MileStones that Limerick’s Life has located in the map below.

View Limerick Benchmarks in a larger map


Click on the tab to see photographs of the Benchmarks today. The numbers on this pictures correspond with the locations on the map above.

 

1. Old Warehouse on Shannon Street

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shannon street benchmark

Benchmark at Shannon Street and Henry Street

2. Tait’s Clock, Baker Place

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Pery Square benchmark

Pery Square

3. Georgian Building, Mallow Street

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mallow street benchmark

Mallow Street

4. Villers’ Orphanage and School, Henry Street

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henry Street benchmark

Henry Street

5. Barrington’s Hospital, George’s Quay

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George's Quay benchmark

George’s Quay

6. Centre of Baal’s Bridge

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Baals bridge benchmark

Baals Bridge

7. Corner of Roden Street and O’Connell Avenue

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Roden Street Benchmark

Roden Street

8. O’Connell Avenue

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O'Connell Avenue

O’Connell Avenue

9. Carlisle Terrace, O’Connell Avenue

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O'Connell Avenue

O’Connell Avenue

10. St. John’s Parish Fountain, Cathedral Place

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Cathedral Place

Cathedral Place

11. Centre of Mathew Bridge

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Mathew Bridge

Mathew Bridge

12. Townhouse, John Square

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John's Square

John’s Square

13. Cleeve’s Factory, formally John Norris Russell Flax Mill, O’Callaghan Strand

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O'Callaghan Strand

O’Callaghan Strand

14. Boat Club, Sarsfield Bridge formally Wellesley Bridge

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Sarsfield Bridge

Sarsfield Bridge

15. Centre of Thomond Bridge

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Thomond bridge

Thomond Bridge

16. Remnant of Old Park Bridge, on O’Dwyers Bridge

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O'Dwyer's Bridge

O’Dwyer’s Bridge

17. Workhouse/St.Camillus Hospital, Shelbourne Road

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Shelbourne Road

Shelbourne Road

18. Gatehouse, Corbally Road

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Corbally Road

19. Railway Bridge, Corbally Road

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Corbally Road

Corbally Road

20. Back of St. Mary’s Cathedral, St. Augustine Lane

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St. Augustine Lane

St. Augustine Lane

21. Lock Mill Archway, Canal Bank

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Canal Bank

Canal Bank

22. The Milk Market, Mungret Street.

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Milk Market

Milk Market

23. Athlunkard Bridge, Corbally

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Athlunkard Bridge

Athlunkard Bridge

24. Red Path, Springbrook, Corbally

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springbrook

Springbrook

25. Ryanhart House, Mill Road, Corbally

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Mill Road

Mill Road

26. Old Bishop’s House, Mill Road, Corbally

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Mill Road

Mill Road

27. Courthouse, Merchant’s Quay

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Merchant's Quay

Merchant’s Quay

28. Newtown Mahon, Upper William Street.

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Newtown Mahon

Newtown Mahon

29. Limerick Clothing Factory, Lord Edward Street

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lord edward street

Lord Edward Street

30. South Circular Road

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south circular road

South Circular Road

31. Mount St. Alphonsus, South Circular Road

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South circular road

South Circular Road

32. Old Gas Works, Dock Road

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Dock Road

Dock Road

33. Potato Market, Merchants Quay

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Potato Market

Potato Market

34. Custom House, Rutland Street

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Custom House

Rutland Street

35. The Granary, Michael Street

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Michael Street

Michael Street

36. Good Shepherd Convent (Art College), Clare Street

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Clare Street

Clare Street

37. Saint Peter Street, off Nicholas Street

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St. Peter Street

St. Peter Street

38. North Circular Road

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North Circular Road

North Circular Road

39. Heron Court, North Circular Road

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North Circular Road

North Circular Road

40. Villers School, North Circular Road

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North Circular Road

North Circular Road

41. North Circular Road

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North Circular Road

North Circular Road

42. Eden Terrace, North Circular Road

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North Circular Road

North Circular Road

43. North Circular Road

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North Circular Road

North Circular Road

44. Beech Lawn, North Circular Road

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North Circular Road

North Circular Road

45. O’Connell Street, at Hartstonge Street

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O'Connell Street

O’Connell Street

46. Bishop’s Quay

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Harvey's Quay

Bishop’s Quay

47. Old Barracks, Mulgrave Street

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Mulgrave Street

Mulgrave Street

48. Lancaster School, Old Clare Street

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Old Clare Street

Old Clare Street

49. Mount Saint Lawrence Cemetery Boundary Wall

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Mount Saint Lawrence

Mount Saint Lawrence

50. Villiers Alms House, Church Road

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Widows Alms

Widows Alms Houses

51. Limerick Prison, Mulgrave Street

With many thanks to a very nice Prison Warden who took the close-up picture.

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Limerick Prison

Limerick Prison

52. Saint John’s Cathedral, Garryowen Road

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St John's Cathedral

St John Cathedral

53. Mallow Street and Pery Square

This benchmark is with thanks to Benchmark Sites

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Mallow Street

Mallow Street

54. St Michael Church, Church of Ireland, Pery Square

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St Michael Church

St Michael Church

55. Villier’s Alms House, Church Street, second mark

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villers

56. Clancy Strand

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clancy strand benchmark

57. Thomond House, Thomondgate

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thomond house


Miles Stones

Other stone street markers are the Mile Stones, which were old version of sign posts indicating how many miles were between one location and another.

1. Dublin Road, Mile Stone and Benchmark

Showing the distance between Limerick and Nenagh. This benchmark is thanks to Bock the Robber

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hurlers

2.Dock Road, Mile Stone

This shows the distance between Limerick and Tarbert

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Mile Stone at on the Dock Road

Mile Stone at on the Dock Road

3. Canal Bank, Mile Stone

This shows the distance between Limerick and Killaloe

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canal


If in your wanderings around Limerick you discover any of your own benchmarks, let us know here and we will add it to the custom Benchmark Map above. So, do you know of any others?