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Richard Griffith, a pioneering figure in Irish geology, was born in 1784.

His significant contributions to the field began when George Bellas Greenough commissioned him in 1811 to create a geological map of Ireland. Despite initial setbacks due to the lack of an accurate topographical base map, Griffith's early version of the map was likely showcased at his Dublin Society lectures in 1814.

To address the deficiencies in available maps, Griffith embarked on his own triangulation of Ireland from 1819 to 1824. However, the establishment of the Ordnance Survey in 1825 rendered his efforts redundant. That same year, Griffith was appointed director of the General Boundary Survey of Ireland, and in 1827, he became commissioner of the General Survey and Valuation of Rateable Property. In his boundary survey role, Griffith was responsible for identifying and plotting all county, barony, parish, and townland boundaries, which were then represented on the Ordnance Survey's six-inch maps.

As commissioner of valuation, Griffith conducted two major surveys: the townland valuation (1830-c.1842) and the tenement valuation (1852-65), known as "the Griffith Valuation." He emphasized the importance of understanding local geology for accurate land valuation, instructing his staff in geological observations primarily aimed at improving his geological map of Ireland. From 1835, Griffith operated an unofficial geological survey within the valuation office, employing Patrick Ganly for geological field investigations.

Griffith's geological map, based on Aaron Arrowsmith's inaccurate Irish map, received positive acclaim when displayed at the British Association meeting in Dublin in August 1835. By October 1836, Griffith had become one of the four railway commissioners for Ireland, advocating for the importance of regional geology in planning the railway system. The commissioners published his map in 1838 at a scale of 1:633,600, and in May 1839 at a scale of 1:253,440, based on a new Ordnance Survey map directed by Thomas Aiskew Larcom.

This quarter-inch geological map established Griffith's reputation as "the father of Irish geology." The map underwent continuous revision before 1855 and was featured at the Universal Exhibition in Paris that year. Despite Griffith's efforts, he was not appointed as director of the official Geological Survey of Ireland, established by the government in April 1845.