Sinn Féin MLA Phil Flanagan has officially launched the consultation on his Bill on the Numbering of Individual Properties within Townlands.
Speaking from Stormont, where the official launch took place, Mr Flanagan said:
“This proposed legislation would give each district council, if it so wished, the chance to move away from numbering properties on the basis of road names and move to a system where numbers were allocated based on the townland the property is in.
“This would give our townlands extra prominence and could, in my view, protect them from eradication.
“What I have personally seen in many parts of the north is a complete lack of knowledge, particularly amongst young people, of the townland they come from or where it name is derived from.
“The townland is a unique feature of the Irish landscape and is one of the most ancient divisions in the country; townlands existed long before our parishes and counties.
“Until recently, the townland was the postal address, before the Post Office introduced its scheme of road names.
“There are approximately 62,000 townlands in Ireland and great variations are evident in townland sizes due to the fact that their shapes and sizes are related to local topography and farming practices.
“At present, local councils must number individual properties based on a street/road name and townlands can then be added later on in the address format.
“However, this has led to the removal of townlands from common usage and their addition is often only as a token gesture.
“What I propose to do could put townlands back at the heart of our address system, reintroduce them into everyday usage and give them the recognition they truly deserve.”