Map of Ireland
Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum
This map of Ireland dates from around 1530. It is drawn on vellum and shows Ireland as a rough quadrangular shaped island. Highly individualized buildings in bright red and blue represent the sites of principal places. Rivers are recorded but other detail is absent. It is interesting in that it shows no influence of any of the several 15th century ‘reconstructions’ of Ptolemy’s geography, nor of the Topographia of Giraldus Cambrensis. We do not know who the author is but can attribute the date to no later than 1538 as it mentions Portlester as belonging to the Earl of Kildare. The author betrays that he is much better acquainted with the English pale than with the rest of Ireland as he assigns disproportionate space to the district between Dublin and Carrickfergus along the coast and lengthens the River Boyne between Drogheda and Trim. The omission of St Patrick’s purgatory is striking. This was a mythical internal lake populated by over three hundred tiny islands and is usually shown on representations of Ireland of this date. The map interesting as it illustrates how little was known about the geography of Ireland at this time, when Henry VIII was considering the ‘recovery’ of the country.