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Collections Spotlight – John Speed’s 1610 map of ‘The Province of Connaugh’

Every week we shine a light on a different object from our collections that you may not have seen before.  This week we have an edition of the hand painted map of Connaught and Galway city created by John Speed and engraved by Jodocus Hondius in 1610.  The first map of this kind was published in 1612.

John Speed’s 1610 map of ‘The Province of Connaugh’. This edition dates from c. 1670s.

This particular map has been confirmed by experts as dating from the 1670’s.  Earlier engraving imperfections from a print in 1627 were corrected by this time.  As this edition reflects those edits it is considered an original. The map formed part of Speed’s atlas ‘The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine’ published in 1611-12 which featured county and city maps of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The maps were printed from engraved copper plates and then hand painted and making them works of art in their own right. In this map of Connaught you may notice that County Clare is included because the county formed part of Connaught from 1568 until 1639 when it was returned to Munster.

John Speed was born in a Cheshire village in 1551/52 and was a cartographer and historian. He started off as a tailor in his father’s business but soon became a full time scholar and came to the attention of Queen Elizabeth I who granted him a room in the Customs House in London. Along with the atlas he published in 1611/12 he also published a history book called the ‘Historie of Great Britaine’ in 1611. He died in 1629 and there is a memorial to him at St. Giles-without-Cripplegate church in London.

This document is currently on display in our Caomhnóirí na nGael / Keepers of the Gael Gallery. Opening times are Tuesday to Saturday on four daily time slots; 10am; 11.30am; 2pm and 3.30pm. Visitors can book their FREE tickets HERE.

Visit COLLECTIONS to browse more objects online.



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