Description

This hand-coloured aquatint and etching of the ruins of Muckross Abbey in Killarney, County Kerry, Ireland is based on artwork by Thomas Walmsley (1763–1805/6). It was published by Thomas Cartwright in 1806 as the second plate in the Miscellaneous Irish Scenery series. The view now forms part of the King’s Topographical Collection.

The history of Muckross Abbey

Muckross Abbey, situated on the banks of Lough Leane, was originally known as the Monastery of 'Oir Bhealach' or 'Eastern Way'.  Early Irish christians built a monastery on this site in the 6th century, although the current incarnation of the abbey – illustrated in this print – was founded in 1448. Despite numerous attempts to close the abbey during and after the English Reformation (from 1534), it continued to be inhabited and function as a place of catholic worship until Oliver Cromwell’s (1599–1658) Parliamentarian army supressed Ireland in 1652.

Though the abbey was destroyed and the monks dispersed, the ruins and graveyard continued to be cared for and used by the local community. It is the burial place of local chieftains and, in the 17th and 18th centuries, of the Kerry poets, Geoffrey O'Donoghue (c.1615-78), Aodhagán Ó Rathaille (d. 1729) and Eoghan Rua Ó Súilleabháin (c. 1748–1784).

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