This engraving depicts Lough Leane, the largest of the three lakes in the Killarney National Park, County Kerry, Ireland. Based on artwork by Letitia Bushe (d. 1757), this plate is the earliest extant view of Killarney. Bushe’s prospect is taken from Torc Mountain looking north, and presents the great lake as the centrepiece in the impressive and varied landscape of Killarney.
The engraving forms the frontispiece to the naturalist Richard Barton’s (1706–1759) Some remarks, towards a full description of Upper and Lower Lough Lene, near Killarney, in the County of Kerry (1751). Barton’s written guide to Killarney was also one of the first of its kind, and it served to introduce and establish the picturesque location as one of Ireland’s premier tourist destinations in the 18th century and beyond. Beneath the view is a key highlighting some of the main areas of interest on and surrounding the lake, including:
• Muckross Peninsula
• Ross Castle
Who was Letitia Bushe?
Letitia Bushe was a member of the minor gentry in Ireland. She never married, but was able to maintain an independent if modest lifestyle that centred on her female friendship circle. Bushe was admired by her contemporaries for her wit, intelligence and skill at painting watercolours and miniatures. She is primarily known in the 21st century as an avid and entertaining letter writer, with her correspondences to Mary Delany (1700–1788) and Lady Anne Bligh – among others – providing valuable insight into Irish society during the middle years of the 18th century.