UCC Library is pleased to open to the public the R.M. Bulter Architect Collection, a small archival collection relating to prominent architects Rudolf Maximilian Butler and James Gandon.
Rudolf Maximilian Butler (1872-1943)
Rudolf Maximilian Butler was an Irish architect, architectural historian, academic, and journalist. Born in Dublin in 1872, he was educated in both Dublin and Germany. Following his studies, he apprenticed in Dublin under architects James Joseph Farrall, from 1889-1891, and Walter Glynn Doolin, from 1891-1896. After completing his training, he remained with Doolin, first as his assistant and then as his junior partner. With Doolin’s death in 1902, Butler formed an architectural partnership with James Louis Donnelly named Doolin Bulter & Donnelly. The partnership ended approximately five years later with Donnelly’s departure. Butler then operated as Doolin & Butler for several years before finally practicing privately under his own name.
Butler’s most well known architectural designs are Catholic ecclesiastical works. Notable examples include:
The R.M. Butler Architect Collection primarily relates to Butler’s work as an architectural historian, containing correspondence, press cuttings, and other material, concerning his research into the renowned English-born architect James Gandon, best known for his design of Irish public buildings including the Custom House, the Four Courts, and King’s Inns in Dublin.
James Gandon (1743–1823)
James Gandon was born in London in February 1743. He was educated at Shipley’s Drawing Academy before apprenticing under the Scottish architect William Chambers, designer of the Casino at Marino and Charlemont House in Dublin, from 1758-1765. Following his apprenticeship, he set up an independent practice in 1765.
The collection includes correspondence from individuals such as Walter G. Strickland, author of A Dictionary of Irish Artists, and W. J. Jessop of Jessop & Son in Nottingham, touching on different periods of Gandon’s career. Early projects referenced include his engravings for Colen Campbell’s Vitruvius Britannicus, a book of plans and drawings of Palladian revival buildings, and his design for the Shire Hall in Nottingham (built 1769-1772).
Gandon’s first major Irish commission came in 1780 when he was hired to design and superintend the construction of the Custom House in Dublin. It was a controversial project, receiving considerable opposition from the Corporation of Dublin, city merchants, and the public, largely due to its high cost and location. Despite the hostility, the project led to Gandon settling in Ireland where he was to remained the rest of his life.
Of Gandon’s other Irish projects, the collection includes two letters from R.M. Butler to the editor of the Freeman’s Journal, one in draft form and the other as a press cutting, concerning his work on the Four Courts and Parliament House in Dublin. In the draft letter, Butler outlines the design of the Four Courts by Gandon and Thomas Cooley (1740–1784). Cooley was the original designer but died after the western and southern portions of the quadrangle were finished. Gandon was then hired to complete the project and was responsible for the central part containing the Four Courts proper leaving “the impress of his genius on the whole beautiful edifice.” However, as with his other projects, things did not always run smoothly, with Butler noting that Gandon was forced to change his design for the portico by the Earl of Portarlington, which Gandon much regretted.
Writing in 1922, Butler ends the letter by laments the recent destruction of some Dublin’s most notable buildings, including the Four Courts, “which contributed so much to give it architectural dignity and charm as a metropolis.” He concludes: “It would be well if the Government would, when we once again enjoy the blessings of peace, appoint a commission to ascertain and report to what extent these beautiful buildings may, by careful restoration be recreated in whole or in part.” These restoration efforts are touched on in other items in the collection, including a notice from the Institution of Civil Engineers of Ireland containing a paper titled ‘Some Reconstruction Work at the Four Courts, Dublin.’ by T. J. Byrne from 1929.
The collection also includes a short article by Butler, from the Irish Builder, discussing Canonbrook House in Lucan, County Dublin, Gandon’s residence following his retirement in 1805. Canonbrook is described as a rural Georgian house “designed and embellish by Gandon himself.” While retiring from the stresses of large scale schemes, Gandon remained active, designing upward of forty residences in Lucan and putting forward a range of projects in connection with public improvements and national memorials. He died at Canonbrook on 24 December 1823.
Among the Cartographic Visual material currently being listed in Special Collections are two small collections of political prints, each representing two distinct periods in the history of visual satire and caricature in Great Britain.
The first set, titled ‘Napoleonic Prints’, contains thirteen engravings from the “Golden Age” of the political print (1760-c. 1830), dating from the end of the Seven Years War, in 1763, to the War of the Sixth Coalition during the Napoleonic era – the final print dating from 1813.
A range of social, political and technological factors aided the development of the political print in the latter half of the 18th century, with the medium truly coming into its own during the upheaval of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. The period saw the emergence of a number of pioneering artists, including James Gillray (1756–1815), Thomas Rowlandson (1757–1827) and George Cruikshank (1792–1878). Gillray, in particular, is credited with transforming the medium through his distinct style and humour for which he has received the title “the father of the political cartoon”. Most prints at the time were sold as single sheets and produced from etchings or engravings, some using aquatint, while others were hand-coloured.
Members of the royal family, political figures, and other high-ranking members of society were all prime targets for Gillray and his fellow caricaturists, with images highlighting distorted or exaggerated features as the subject’s ambitions and moral shortcomings are mocked and scrutinised. A regular source of inspiration was the bitter rivalry between the Tories and the Whigs. The example above, from 1797, depicts a particularly arrogant William Pitt the Younger in Parliament bestriding the Speaker’s chair as he uses a spur on his left boot to stab Charles James Fox, Leader of the Opposition. The print is one of many focusing on Pitt’s management of finances to fund the war against Revolutionary France.
George III and Napoleon were other popular subjects of ridicule. The former was often depicted as a pretentious fool, while the latter’s political ambitions were satirised, with caricatures emphasising his stature and/or inflated head. The above print by Gillray, from 1806, depicts George III confronting Napoleon on a theatre stage. Napoleon stands on a cloud as he points to a scroll containing his terms of peace. Meanwhile, the orchestra in the pit below is composed of members of the new Ministry, each playing to their own sheet music. As was common, the image is filled with commentary, analogy, and allusion.
Daniel O’Connell Prints
The second set of prints, titled ‘Daniel O’Connell Prints’, contains eleven lithographs, dating from the 1830s and 1840s, and represents the work of two artists: John Doyle (1797–1868), who adopted the monogram H.B., and Henry Heath (fl. 1822–1842), who adopted monogram H.H..
By the 1830s, visual culture had changed, moving from the engravings and etchings of the earlier period to new techniques such as lithography. The new cheaper, and quicker, methods of production coincided with a shift from single sheet prints to serial formats. As Henry Miller notes: “Instead of being issued as single-sheet prints, caricatures, graphic satires and non-satirical political images increasingly came in a variety of formats that were published continually at regular intervals.” (p. 25) Both changes can be found in the set, with each of the prints numbered as part of a series – in the present case ‘Political Sketches of H.B.‘ and ‘Political Sketches by H.H.’.
The John Doyle, or H.B., prints primarily focus on the short period of Robert Peel’s first Ministry (1834-5). The image above reflecting the less than promising start to Peel’s first term as Prime Minster. It depicts an omnibus, lettered “Public Reform”, with the Duke of Wellington as the conductor, or cad, and Sir Robert Peel as the coachman. Unfortunately, it only carries a single passenger in the form of William IV. Meanwhile, John Bull, a personification of the nation, keeps watch as timekeeper. Indeed, Peel’s minority Tory government was forced to resign after approximately a hundred days in office, largely thanks to an alliance between the Whigs and Daniel O’Connell.
Only one of the Doyle’s prints contains the figure of O’Connell. Dating from 1837, it depicts him as the driver of a hackney-cabriolet, titled “Patent Safety”, dictating the direction of the cab and, by implication, the present Whig ministry under Lord Melbourne.
Conversely, Daniel O’Connell appears in all five of the Henry Heath, or H.H., prints which provide a short sequence focusing on his campaign for repeal of the Union. The image above, shows O’Connell kneeling before Queen Victoria disguised as a beggar as he presents the petition for repeal. A group of Irish beggars stand behind him while Prince Albert, Sir Robert Peel, and the Duke of Wellington accompany the Queen. In the dialogue boxes, the Queen indicates that she sees through O’Connell’s disguise and rejects the petition, while Wellington and Peel comment on the matter: “Dan has well disguised himself, but it won’t do, the Queen has her suspicions and appears determined not to listen to his blarney.” The remaining prints focus on O’Connell’s subsequent arrest, trial and imprisonment.
Both sets of political prints are now fully listed, with further details and the complete listings available on the Special Collections’ Cartographic Visual LibGuide.
The Civitates map of Cork names six churches and two abbeys, which are indicated as important features, reflecting the significance of these locations in medieval and early modern ‘Corke’. The history of the churches in Cork provides an interesting outline of the city’s development throughout the Middle Ages. The precursor to the medieval city was the monastic site of St Finbarr, which according to tradition, was established in 606. Around three hundred years later, Vikings established a settlement on the river Lee near this monastery.
The first church listed on the map is Christ’s Church, located on modern-day South Main Street. The site of Christ’s Church is an important remnant of Cork’s medieval past. The current Georgian building was constructed in 1720, however, this was not the first church located on these grounds. Following the coming of the Vikings and the establishment of Cork as a trading hub, a Hiberno-Norse church was built on this site in 1050. It is said to be the first church to be built within the walls of the city. In 1180, the Anglo-Normans built a new church at this location, which survived into the early modern period. This church, originally dedicated to the Holy Trinity, is the Christ’s Church depicted on the map.
The church gained a royal reputation, when it received patronage from King Richard II in the fourteenth century and was referred to as the King’s Chapel. According to tradition, in 1497 it also hosted the coronation of the pretender to the English throne, Perkin Warbeck. Christ’s Church was the main place of worship in the city: the mayor attended festivals here, alongside judges and other notable people. A sixteenth-century mayor called Thomas Ronan (d. 1554) was interred inside, his resting place was marked with the inscription ‘The Modest Man’. The church probably hosted the wedding of the poet, Edmund Spenser, famous for The Faerie Queene, to his wife Elizabeth Boyle in 1594. This poem includes interesting references to the landscape of County Cork.
The second church listed on the map is St Peter’s Church, located on the present-day North Main Street. Said to be the oldest standing church in Cork, dating to the year 1270, St Peter’s Church was financed and constructed by King Henry III. After the Anglo-Norman invasion, English influence created a rift between the Gaelic Irish and the settlers of the now-walled port. The English crown was attempting to consolidate its control in Ireland, collecting £1150 yearly from the island (estimated to be roughly £900,000 today). Royal jurisdiction allowed Henry to tighten his grip on Cork and use it as a source of revenue and land for his English vassals. The political motivation behind the construction of St Peter’s is evident in its design, with the building serving as a tower to watch over the city. The king’s arms were carved into the stone on the western wall of the building and were still visible in the mid-eighteenth century as described by The Ancient and Present State of the County and City of Cork. In early modern times, Cork remained a source of income for the English crown and the royal presence within the city was an enduring element of its administration.
A number of churches were located just outside of the medieval city walls. The church within the ‘new fort’ is marked as ‘Holly Rode’ (number 7) also known as the church of St Mary de Nard in some earlier sources. The earliest mentions of this church are found in twelfth-century letters. The origin of the church’s dedication is unknown: modern scholars suggest that the church was dedicated to the Holy Cross or that its name referred to the holy ointment used by Mary Magdalene to anoint Christ. The church had withered away by the seventeenth century, around the time of the construction of Elizabeth Fort.
Mendicant or begging orders that arrived in Ireland in the thirteenth century had their friaries established near the city’s walls. The Franciscan friary was established outside the north side (number 3), while the Dominican and Augustinian friars were located south of the city walls (numbers 4 and 9). Their location close to the city walls and city gates allowed the friars easy access to preach to both the urban and rural population as well as beg for alms.
‘S. Barrie’s Church’, or St Fin Barre’s Cathedral, was also located on the south side of the city (number 5 on the Civitates map). It stood on the site of the previously mentioned monastic settlement of St Finbarr, founded in the seventh century. The simple original building continued to be used throughout the early medieval period but became destitute around the time of the Anglo-Norman arrival. It was converted to Anglican use during the time of the Reformation in the 1530s, under the Tudors. On the Civitates map ‘S. Barrie’s Church’ is next to a ‘spyre’ (number 6), that housed the bells. This ‘spyre’ was the only surviving part of the structure during the Siege of Cork in the late seventeenth century. The cathedral spire can still be seen in an illustration of Queen Victoria’s visit to Cork in 1849. What remained of the medieval cathedral however was demolished in 1858 to make way for the construction of the new cathedral by William Burges.
The city’s motto, ‘A safe harbour for ships’ (Latin: ‘Statio bene fida carinis‘) marks Cork harbour as a secure anchorage, with maritime trade that was a jealously defended resource. The strategic position of the city had been recognised since Viking settlement, and the city was protected by earthworks and later walls dating to the Anglo-Norman invasion. The Civitates map of Cork shows the early modern city safely enclosed by high walls and battlements, surrounded by a natural river moat and defended by an armed fort. In spite of Cork’s depiction on the map as smaller than the other three Irish cities of Dublin, Galway and Limerick, it still appears as an important and strategic centre of commerce.
With advancements in weaponry in the early modern period, walled cities such as Cork, that were built on a river mouth, needed better protection from the sea. Cork’s early modern defences were constructed with Tudor English determination as a bulwark against piracy and Spanish invasion. These were immediate concerns in coastal areas, particularly along Ireland’s southern coast. Cork was a wealthy city and English fears that it could be used as a stepping-stone to an invasion of England were well founded. In the late sixteenth century two new fortifications were constructed to protect the town: a castle on the river in Blackrock and a fort overlooking the city. In 1590 Queen Elizabeth I ordered fortifications to be built in major coastal walled towns, particularly in Waterford, Cork, Limerick and Galway. By 1601 the first earthen embankments of Cork’s new fort were constructed, named in honour of Elizabeth and accommodating an English garrison.
Elizabeth Fort, indicated as number 10 on the Civitates map, is a star-shaped fortification based on thetrace Italienne(French: ‘Italian outline’). The fort was a distinct landmark lying in the southern suburbs of seventeenth-century Cork and overlooked the walled city as a protection against the Gaelic Irish and and the potential Spanish invasion. Star forts evolved during the age of gunpowder as cannon began to dominate the battlefield. With a lower silhouette and a larger surface area, star-shaped forts utilized overlapping fields of fire to provide defence in depth. Another example of such fortification is Charles Fort in Kinsale.
Overlooking the northern approaches to the city was Shandon Castle, another site of strategic importance. The Civitates map, based on an earlier 1610 map of Cork by John Speed, mistakenly places Shandon Castle at number 16 to the west of the city instead of north.Because of these defences, the port of Cork from Roches Point to the city centre was one of the most heavily defended harbours in the world. In the eighteenth century, Martello towers were constructed to counter the Napoleonic threat to British rule over Ireland. The later harbour forts, constructed in the nineteenth century, provided long-range coastal artillery with Whitehead underwater torpedo launchers, powerful searchlights and were garrisoned with troops.
Only twice in its long history, since Prince John as Lord of Ireland, granted the city its first charter in 1185, has the city of Cork been reduced to smoking rubble. John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, sacked the city during the Williamite wars in 1690. Marlborough’s bombardment showed that walls were no longer a defence against an early modern European army equipped with artillery. His artillery, firing from the Red Abbey breached the eastern walls, while infantry assaulted Elizabeth Fort with musket fire from St Fin Barre’s Cathedral. The walls which had stood for centuries were powerless against new weapons of war.
The second occasion when Cork was devastated was on the night of 11 December 1920, when British forces ransacked Cork, burning the city centre to the ground, during the War of Independence.
Like other Irish cities represented in the Civitates Orbis Terrarum, Cork was established as a harbour at the mouth of a river. However, more than these cities, Cork has been defined by its unique placement on the river Lee. Built originally on two islands within the river, the city has made effective use of the waterways throughout its history, whether for defence or commerce. Indeed, as a walled medieval town established on these two islands, Cork benefitted from having a waterway which flowed inside the walls. This allowed merchant ships to dock safely within the protection of the walls, instead of in the open water, which encouraged the growth of a wealthy merchant class and international trade. A 1306 will of Cork merchant, John de Wynchedon, is a witness to the wealth of the city’s medieval merchants. John’s generosity ensured the wellbeing of his family after his death, but he also took great care to offer his benefactions to over a dozen of Cork’s churches for the salvation of his soul as well as to the marginalized groups, including the poor and the lepers.
However, the map of ‘Corcke’ in the Civitates, alongside other early modern maps of the city, reveals an even more subtle fashion in which the riverways shaped Cork. The map is oriented in an east-west direction, but by reorienting the map north-south and by paying attention to the channels of the river, features of present-day Cork become identifiable. It is also possible to spot the modern street patterns, many of which exist above the earlier river paths.
In the early maps of Cork, from 1600 to 1650, the city is depicted as based on two islands, separated by a waterway running across town and dividing the city into the north and south sides. By 1690, this inlet no longer appeared on the maps, a road now ran east-west through the walled town, where it formerly was. This road was situated roughly where the modern Washington Street is located.
By the late seventeenth century the city had also begun expanding outside of the walls, into what would eventually become known as the Huguenot Quarter, north of present-day St Patrick’s Street. However, at that time water still flowed in channels, which correspond to the Grand Parade, St Patrick’s Street, Coal Quay Market, South Mall and the sections of Washington Street that were located outside the walls of the medieval city. Roughly fifty years later, the area presently known as Oliver Plunkett Street began to be developed; quays lined the waterside on the Grand Parade and the curve which later became St Patrick’s Street. The water channels were covered over between the Grand Parade and the Coal Quay Market. On the map of Cork from 1750, quays are also clearly evident along a spur of the river alongside, where the Opera House and Crawford Art Gallery now exist.
By the 1770s, most of the waterways beneath the present-day Grand Parade and the Coal Quay Market were covered, which greatly reduced the expanse of waterfront quays available in the eastern half of the city. The overall shape of modern Cork’s central island was established, the city’s development had already reached the easternmost point of the island at the confluence between the north and south branches of the river Lee. In the western part, the city had not yet expanded far beyond the medieval walls; Abbey Island, located to the south-west and near St Fin Barre’s Cathedral, was still surrounded by the separate channels of the river.
By 1801, St Patrick’s Street had completely replaced the older waterway, as had the Grand Parade, and much of the South Mall. Small spurs of water still remained at the locations of the Coal Quay Market and the Emmett Place, and water channels still separated Abbey Island from the rest of the city centre. The city was expanding both north and south of the river, and was beginning to grow westward.
By tracing the water paths shown in the early maps of Cork, such as that found within the Civitates Orbis Terrarum, it is possible to recognize the locations of many modern landmarks, because of the unique fashion in which the riverways were directly covered and converted into roads.
The Civitates Orbis Terrarum was a carefully thought-out tool to inform the reader about the chief cities of the known world, where individual pages were constructed from existing maps and costume books. Each detail contained cultural references that would have been understood by the early modern viewer. On the Irish page the maps of the four cities (Dublin, Galway, Limerick and Cork) are flanked by six figures representing Irish society. The order of the figures suggests a scale of affluence, the very richest are depicted on the top and the poorest at the bottom of the page.
The top pair includes an Irish nobleman on the left and an Irish matron on the right. Their clothes demonstrate what the fabulously rich and well adorned people wore, with the man sporting a splayed collar and a pointed hat, and the woman wearing a ruff and opulent fur-lined coat, which was the fashion of the time among the wealthy.
The middle pair consists of Irish town-folk, with a man on the left and a woman on the right, wearing more modest but very respectable attire.
The bottom pair on the page shows the rural Irish, once again placing the man on the left and the woman on the right. In direct contrast to the Irish nobility, the rural Irish wear functional clothing, including mantles.
It is perhaps little coincidence that the poorest Irish people flank the cities that the map seems to represent as the least busy and rich. In comparison to the bustling city of Galway, with its dozens of buildings, impressive walls and a busy waterway, Cork may appear to be shown as sparse and lacklustre. There are fewer buildings and no ships sailing in its waters, which may suggest to the viewer a lack of trade and commerce, and little in the way of cultural vibrancy in Cork city. But as can be seen from other blog posts in this online exhibition, Cork acted as an important trade centre in the medieval and early modern periods.
For the rural Irish to be placed alongside the map of Cork was a means of conveying to the viewer the nature of Cork and its hinterland as uncivilised or at least simple and rather backward. The map reinforces this image through the use of the words ‘rusticus’ and ‘rustica’, Latin words for ‘a country-dweller’, to describe the Irish man and woman who are placed in the lower level of the page that also includes the map of Cork at the same lower level. While the word ‘rusticus’ can evoke uncivilised qualities of country-dwellers, it can also refer to their simplicity. Saint Patrick, for example, described himself as ‘the most simple country person’ or ‘rusticissimus’.
In the Civitates, the page with four maps of Irish cities is accompanied by a brief description of each city: Cork is described as not very big, yet densely populated and prosperous, with the surrounding area inhabited by seditious people. This description of the city, labels ‘rusticus’ and ‘rustica’ and the inclusion of the Irish mantles, would evoke to the viewer’s mind the cultural stereotype of the Irish as savage and uncivilised, more at home amongst the wilds. Such views of the indigenous Irish have their origins in the classical world with some writers describing the Irish as violent, incestuous and cannibalistic. In contrast the English rural dwellers, seen on the Civitates page with the images of the English cities, are presented wearing more elaborate clothing.
Following the late twelfth-century Anglo-Norman invasion, ideas of Irish barbarism became fully entrenched within the European mindset. The cleric Gerald of Wales (c. 1146 – c. 1223) drew upon ancient ideas of Irish barbarity in his widely copied books The Topography of Ireland and The Conquest of Ireland. Gerald’s texts, written in Latin, were the seminal points of reference for hostile early modern English views concerning the Irish people.
The depiction of Cork as a walled city, which needed multiple fortifications in its suburbs, suggested to the viewer the potential threat from the Gaelic Irish. The surrounding lands of Cork are bereft of roads and have scattered built structures in the countryside. Consequently, Cork’s hinterland appears dangerous and the city with its walls suggests potential threats from the uncivilised Irish. The English readership would identify any civilisation in Cork as a direct result of the Anglo-Norman conquest. The map and accompanying images revealed to the European mindset the dual nature of Cork as influenced by the medieval ideas of civility and barbarity. At the time of the map’s creation, the early modern Gaelic Irish were still viewed as wild and savage, akin to their medieval ancestors, as seen in the artwork of the famous German painter and craftsman Albrecht Dürer and the Flemish artist Lucas d’Heere.
Mapping Cork: Representing Ireland in Maps before the Civitates Orbis Terrarum: Ortelius and English Colonial Perspectives
The pioneering cartographer Abraham Ortelius asserted: ‘Historiae oculus geographia’ (meaning that ‘geography is the eye of history’). His Theatrum Orbis Terrarum or Theatre of the World was the first modern atlas. It was initially published in Antwerp in 1570, and continuously revised and extended until 1612. It was immensely successful and influential.
Ortelius included a map of Ireland in his 1573 edition of the Theatrum. Originating in an erudite Anglo-Flemish milieu, the map is oriented west-east and presents Ireland as ‘a British island’ partially under English control. Cities and towns are dotted along the island’s eastern and southern coasts, where English rule was strongest. Great wildernesses, mountains, woods, rivers and lakes cover much of the rest of Ireland, particularly Ulster and Connacht, where the indigenous Gaelic Irish were dominant.
The map also contains texts credited to Gerald of Wales’s late twelfth-century Topographia Hibernica or Topography of Ireland (1188). Gerald had revived and extended Graeco-Roman ethnic stereotypes of the Irish as exotic, barbarous and sexually deviant. The Geraldine texts incorporated in Ortelius’s map also emphasise that the Irish live on a remote oceanic island of marvels. These include Lough Erne, where the spires of churches may be seen beneath its waves: evidence that God had flooded the region because of its inhabitants’ bestiality.
The Theatrum was very well received by the English colonial elite in Ireland, whose views had helped to shape its representation of the country and its inhabitants. Because of the map’s inclusion in the Theatrum, their interpretation of Irish geography, history, culture and society now circulated in print among Europe’s intelligentsia and ruling classes.
Gerald presents the conquest under King Henry II of England as a civilising mission. The Irish are a ‘gens silvestris’ (‘a woodland people’): intelligent, handsome and untamed barbarians who spurn cultural progress for idle pastoralism in an uncultivated wilderness. The Topographia states that in contrast to the ‘literally barbarous’ Irish, ‘man usually progresses from woods to fields, and from fields to settlements and communities of citizens’.
This idea of human progress was inherited from ancient Greece and Rome. Gerald’s Latin conveys subtleties lost in English. A citizen (civis) lives in an association of citizens or civitas, giving us the word ‘city’. This settled, communal and interdependent way of life leads to civilitas: civility or civilisation. Gerald’s insistence on the literal barbarism of the Irish recalls Cassiodorus’s theory that the Latin word for a barbarian (‘barbarus’) comes from ‘barba’ (‘beard’) and ‘rus’ (‘countryside’). This matches Gerald’s description of the unkempt ‘flowing hair and beards’ of the wild, forest-dwelling Irish.
A map of Europe, oriented east-west, accompanies Gerald’s Irish narratives in a manuscript (c. 1200) owned by the National Library of Ireland. It emphasises Ireland’s remoteness at the western ends of the earth (Gerald argued that isolation from the wider world caused Irish primitivism).
The map’s depiction of cities in Ireland visually reinforces the texts’ emphasis on Irish rejection of urban life. The Topographic and Expugnatio make it clear that the cities shown on the map – Dublin, Wexford, Waterford and Limerick – were Viking foundations, surrounded ‘with fine trenches and walls’ against the Gaelic Irish. The ‘innate laziness’ of the Irish meant that they allowed the Vikings to build these cities for trading purposes; the Irish themselves ‘did not bother to sail the seas or have much truck with commerce’.
Two cities shown in the Civitates are absent from this map: Galway and Cork. The Anglo-Normans had not yet conquered Connacht and founded Galway. The omission of Cork may be deliberate, since Gerald knew that its origins were Gaelic Irish: ‘the land of St Finbarr’.
Gerald and other sources indicate that the Anglo-Normans seized Cork in the 1170s. In Ortelius’s time, it was a resolutely English city in its cultural affiliations and political loyalties. Ortelius’s map of Ireland shows Cork as an island in the river Lee, its urban status symbolised by an image of buildings surmounted by a cross. Westwards, the map displays ‘the grene wode’, mountains and open country.
The Civitates Orbis Terrarum: The City and Civilisation
Ortelius’s Theatrum orbis terrarum gave Georg Braun and Franz Hogenberg a model for the title and conceptual framework of their Civitates Orbis Terrarum or Cities of the World. This work was first published in Cologne and Antwerp, and appeared in six volumes between 1572 and 1617. Its maps, plans, profiles and bird’s eye views of cities and landscapes were mostly copied from existing publications, and its texts were written in Latin, though versions in French and German also appeared.
The Civitates provides an urban companion to the Theatrum’s survey of global geography. Both enterprises are interested in far more than the delineation of physical and political space. They are concerned with identity, culture, and society, manifested in appearance, clothing and behaviour, institutions, laws, customs, traditions, beliefs and myths, and the resources and wonders of the natural world that make the human experience possible and pleasurable. For Ortelius, and Braun and Hogenberg, geography is indeed the eye of history, understood as the study of human life in its multifarious aspects and contexts.
The idea of the city as the zenith of human achievement is central to the Civitates and Theatrum. The title page of the Civitates gives visual expression to this idea.
It is dominated by an image of the Graeco-Roman Magna Mater or Great Mother deity, holding instruments vital for the design and construction of buildings. Accompanying texts and images indicate that humanity came together and progressed from barbarous isolation to civilised urban association via the discovery of fire, and the development of settled agriculture and the rudiments of architecture.
But the title page of the Civitates also cites classical and biblical myths linking cities and civilisation with violence. Athena, the patron goddess of wisdom, crafts and war, is described as the inventor of the citadel. Cain, the first murderer and builder of the first city (Genesis 4:17), is referenced as the founder of towns.
The Civitates Orbis Terrarum in Geo-Political Context
The Civitates appeared in an age of high civilisation and bitter wars. Most of its maps feature European cities in lands ranging eastwards from Ireland to Russia. Its city maps of Africa, Asia and the Americas tend to feature centres of spiritual, cultural, political, strategic and mercantile interest to Europeans. Jerusalem, for example, is shown in three separate maps, indicating its exceptional importance in the European Christian thought-world.
Later sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century Europe was fractured by secular struggles for power and territory, merging with confessional struggles arising from the Reformation. The splintering of the Western Church into Catholic and Protestant denominations added to existing divisions between the West and Eastern Orthodoxy. The Civitates reflects these tensions, but nevertheless posits a common European religious and cultural heritage that faces an existential outside threat. Braun identifies the Ottoman Turkish empire as the mortal enemy of a Europe coterminous with Christendom. Writing only a year after the decisive battle of Lepanto (1571), when the Holy League routed the Ottoman fleet in the Mediterranean, he claims that Islamic prohibitions on the use of images means that the Turks cannot use the Civitates’s detailed urban maps and plans in their wars since they include representations of human beings.
Contexts for the Representation of Ireland in the Civitates Orbis Terrarum
The Civitates map of Cork and the cities of Dublin, Galway and Limerick, and its representation of different social groups in Ireland, also reflects contemporary conflicts, and related ethnic and cultural stereotyping. The materials concerning Ireland appear in the atlas’s sixth and final volume, and offer an imperial English vision of the island within a British context. The extended title of the Civitates’s source, and its allusion to Ortelius, is instructive: TheTheatre of the Empire of Great Britaine, Presenting an Exact geographyof the Kingdomes of England, Scotland, Ireland and the Iles Adionying.
When the cartographer John Speed produced this atlas (1611-12), the English Crown had achieved hegemony over the entire archipelago. Speed dedicated his work to James I and VI of England and Scotland, ruling as ‘an Imperiall Maiestie’ with the new title of ‘King of Great Britaine’. James I and VI was also King of Ireland. In 1541, Ireland had been declared a kingdom under Henry VIII, who began to reassert English control over the island.
The Irish wars of the late Elizabethan period saw the Crown overwhelm Gaelic Ireland with unremitting violence, atrocity and famine. The poet Edmund Spenser, settling on confiscated lands in North Cork, supported this policy of terror and devastation, and described its impact on the people of Munster in his View of the Present State of Ireland (1596): ‘they looked like anatomies of death, they spake like ghosts crying out of their graves … in the shorte space there were almost none left, and a most populous and plentifull country suddanly made voyde of man or beast.’
The Harp and the Fort
Visually, Ireland appears to feature in the Civitates as an integral part of mainstream European civilisation: a Christian kingdom with cities and an agricultural base, under English rule but with distinctive regional variations from England in terms of clothing and personal grooming, particularly in the case of its country people.
If anything, the country looks even more soberly normative than the Ireland of Speed’s Theatre. Speed’s map of Cork city is embedded in his map of the province of Munster. Omitting Munster, the Civitates loses the sea-monster glimpsed off the Waterford coast and the boy-harpist riding another great monster in the ocean beyond Kerry.
But indications of violence and Irish otherness emerge from deeper engagement with the Civitates’s images and texts, and the cultural stereotypes that they contain. To conclude with a single example: consider the forbidding image in the upper-right panel next to the map of Dublin (below). It is directly opposite the crowned harp depicted in the upper-left panel next to Galway: a symbol of Ireland under the English Crown.
The upper-right panel displays ‘Enis Kelling Fort’: a tall, moated and fortified structure in ‘Lough Earne’. This image is taken from the Theatre’s map of Ulster, which Speed presents as mountainous, wooded and scarcely urbanised, and – no coincidence – the last stronghold of Gaelic Irish resistance to English rule. The English had captured Enniskillen Fort in 1594: a significant achievement in their advance across Ulster and one that enabled them more easily to defend their gains and suppress further resistance in the surrounding lands.
Enniskillen Fort’s inclusion in the Civitates, and its alignment with the crowned harp, indicates how English power over Ireland was achieved and maintained. The walls and fortifications of Dublin, Galway, Limerick and Cork, seen in the maps of those cities, were built with good reason.
Introduction:MA in Medieval History, HI6091 Module and Special Collections at University College Cork
Special Collections is delighted to welcome the School of History students engaging with our collections through a series of online exhibitions. UCC Library’s Special Collections holds a variety of early modern maps of Cork city and county such the Civitates Orbis Terrarum (1576-1618) (volume six published in 1618 contains maps of Irish cities). In addition, Special Collections holds maps in print, in facsimile, in critical editions, in limited editions, in illustrated guides, in atlases and reference sources including:
This online exhibition, which uses the Civitates map of Cork as a starting point, is presented as a series of blog posts and celebrates the ongoing collaboration between UCC’s Special Collections and the School of History’s MA in Medieval History. History students, at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, who visit Special Collections receive specialised support and access to stimulating rare publications and materials of historical value. These students develop key skills including communication, teamwork and archival intelligence: the practical skills to locate and use special collections material, and artefactual skills: the ability to identify and analyse primary sources. Acquisition of this skill set leads them to a deeper understanding of the artefact far beyond that acquired from modern text reprints.
Special Collections represent research facilities that provide specialised support and access to stimulating resources. In their second and third years, UCC History undergraduate students are introduced to Special Collections as part of their various modules when they get an opportunity to work with rare publications and material of historical value. These undergraduate classes always leave the students animated by a space they usually do not frequent during the course of their studies, by the content of the material that is brought out especially for them and by the kindness and helpfulness of staff.
The initial encounter of undergraduates with Special Collections continues through their postgraduate studies. The MA in Medieval History students in the past three years have availed of an exciting and rare opportunity of being on work placements in Special Collections.They have created online exhibitions inspired by rare books and facsimiles housed by Special Collections as part of the HI6091 Skills for Medieval Historians module; these exhibitions include: The Luttrell Psalter, The Book of Kells and Viking Cork.
This blog centres on the themes of urban and national identity with a particular focus on Cork city as a centre of trade, culture and politics; all of these themes reflect the research interests of the current MA students, with the images and texts selected by the students themselves to illustrate these themes. Using the Civitates map of Cork, this project is yet another outcome of collaboration between the librarians, academics and students. It represents a collaboration that continues to stimulate all involved and through the online output reaches beyond the walls of UCC. More importantly, the project has been completed during the COVID-19 crisis and its completion is a great testimony to the value of teamwork and collegiality, and the commitment of the MA students to produce high quality research during challenging times.
Andrew Neville completed his undergraduate studies in History and History of Art at University College Cork. He was awarded the Jennifer O’Reilly Prize in Medieval History, 2020, for his work on the representations of Reginald FitzUrse in medieval treatments of the murder scenes of Thomas Becket. His primary research interests are medieval artistic culture, medieval warfare and cosmology. His MA thesis focuses on the medieval French perceptions of the Irish during Richard II’s campaign in Ireland. Andrew is also interested in the relationship between medieval colour theory and geographical symbolism, and the narratives of Irish barbarity and English civility.
Emmanuel Alden earned his BA in History at Kutzown University, Pennsylvania, in 2018. His undergraduate work focused on European history, studying the events which led to the Second World War during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, in addition to studies on the Reformation and Crusades. His undergraduate dissertation was on the historiography of the Viking Age, and his current historical interests lie in the Viking Age, and the connections between the Celtic and Nordic peoples. His MA thesis examines how the medieval Irish portrayed the Hiberno-Norse Viking population in Ireland in the late Viking Age, with an emphasis on the names and phrases used when describing them.
Patrick McKee completed his undergraduate degree in History and English at University College Cork. His final year History dissertation looked at the Christian-Muslim encounters in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Before his UCC studies, Patrick served as a senior NCO in the Irish military. Patrick’s main historical interests lie in medieval Christianity and medieval Christian mysticism. His MA in Medieval History dissertation focuses on the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem and its depiction in pilgrimage accounts from the fourth to the fourteenth century.
David O’Mahony completed his undergraduate studies in History and Geography at University College Cork. David’s undergraduate History dissertation looked at the bardic influences on politics in early modern Ireland. David’s interest in medieval music is inspired by his own musical background and experience in composing and performing music. His MA thesis focuses on the unique musicianship of medieval Irish harpers and poetic skills of the bardic class. It compares their exceptional skills to the continental approaches to music and performance arts. The thesis also looks at medieval Icelandic music culture as a means of comparing two insular places.
The project has been overseen by Elaine Harrington and Dr Małgorzata Krasnodębska-D’Aughton.
Elaine Harrington is UCC Library’s Special Collections Assistant Librarian. Elaine raises the profile of UCC Library’s Special Collections with local, national and international engagement through classes, social media, exhibitions, events, outreach and broadcasting. She collaborates with 30 academics in UCC and CIT to develop innovative research-led undergraduate and postgraduate modules based on primary sources held in UCC Library’s Special Collections. Elaine is a co-founder of the Sonic Histories of Cork City (SHOCC) Project and the Chair of CONUL’s sub-group for Unique & Distinct Collections.
We wish to acknowledge the generosity of the National Library of Ireland, Trinity College Dublin’s Digital Collections, the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society, the Library of Congress and the University of Utrecht for allowing us to use their images of MS 700, the Hardiman Atlas, Blackrock Castle and both editions of Civitiates Orbis Terrarum respectively. We thank Dr Hiram Morgan and Dr Diarmuid Scully for their comments and advice on the text of the blog, and Peter Finnegan for his talk on the Blackstone Launchpad facilities available to postgraduate students. The students of the MA in Medieval History programme wish to convey their gratitude to Dr Małgorzata Krasnodębska-D’Aughton, coordinator of the HI6091 Skills for Medieval Historians module, and Elaine Harrington, Special Collections Librarian, for their support throughout the editing process of this blog.
The Green Coat School Collection is now held in UCC Library but was originally formed in Cork City during the 18th century under the aegis of the Green Coat School trustees. The Green Coat School, also known as ‘Shandon Charity School’ and ‘St Mary Shandon Corke’ opened in 1717 and first admitted twenty boys and twenty girls.
History of the Green Coat School
The school started as a private foundation for the children of poor Protestant families on the north-side of Cork City in Ireland. The School was so called because the uniform was green and keeping the uniform was dependent on good behaviour and knowing one’s catechism. The school was vocationally oriented and in UCC Library’s Green Coat School Minute Book (U.335) trustees’ descriptions noted which students were bound out as apprentices to a variety of trades such as bookbinders, button-makers and seamstresses (23 June 1719).
Henry Maule (1676?–1758), as rector of Shandon (1706–26), was closely associated with the founding of the Green Coat School and served as a trustee. From its founding to midway through the 18th century the school was a prototype and model to follow in the Irish coat and charter school movement and “the movement’s equation of Protestantism with civilisation and industry gave the schools additional meaning in the Irish context” (DiIB). Maule was instrumental in its success: “Maule toured Europe, [particularly English and Scottish models] to investigate similar schemes” (DiIB). However by the end of the 18th century the School had declined (McCann 108) and as evidenced from a circular within UCC Library’s copy of the Green Coat School Minute Book soliciting funds for the School’s Trustees. This circular is signed by Richard Lee, treasurer and grandfather to Dr Philip G Lee, and is dated 28 January 1822.
The collection came to light during a retrospective Special Collections’ cataloguing project in the late 1990s. UCC Library’s copy of the Green Coat School Minute Book (U.335) was donated by Brian Smyth, Dublin in the late 1990s. There is a note inside the front end paper of the Green Coat School Minute Book: “Given into the care of the Rector Rev. R. Hearn by Dr. Philip G. Lee 25 May 1930.” Philip G Lee was a doctor and local Cork historian. Underneath the note Dr Lee has written: “Given to me as ‘waste paper which I have bound. It comprises the minutes of the trustees since the foundation of the Hospital and from these minutes was extracted the rare valuable report of the School Manor as ‘Pietas Corc.’ They are very valuable and important.” It is probable for this reason that it was seen as waste paper and that the first page is page 13. The Representative Church Body Library in Dublin has a different minute book of the Green Coat School (Manuscript 986).
The Green Coat School Collection
The collection in UCC Library has 280 books. The collection has: 10 items from the 16th century, 195 from the 17th century and the remainder are from the 18th century. The items in the collection are predominantly in English (209 items), with 20 items in Latin. However there are also 20 items in French, 1 item in Spanish and 1 item in Irish Gaelic. As this is an early modern collection the imprints of each item show the spread of printing throughout Europe and the map and list below illustrate this spread.
However, there are no books with clasps and ties in the collection. In UCC Library’s copy of the Green Coat School Minute Book it states: “Orderd that no books be lent out of the town nor any Book in the town unless the person who borrows it enters his name in the Register Book and leaves double the value till he returns it” (15 December 1718) therefore none of the books were chained.
In addition, UCC Library holds an ecclesiastical collection, St Fin Barre’s Cathedral Library which was started in 1720 by Bishop Peter Browne and contains similar subject matter to that of the Green Coat School Collection. UCC Library’s general Older Printed Books Collection was established by withdrawing items published before 1851 from the Library’s general holdings. Of the 270 items held in the Green Coat School Collection 246 items are not held in any other collection in UCC Library. St Fin Barre’s Cathedral Collection and the Green Coat School Collection have 35 items in common; whereas Older Printed Books and the Green Coat School Collection overlap on 5 items. Three titles are present in three different collections including: Leabhar na nornaightheadh ccomhchoitchionn or The Book of Common Prayer in English and Irish.
Description of Ownership Marks
Maule wrote Pietas Corcagiensis anonymously and within this book is a catalogue of the books that were donated to the Green Coat School Library (pages 37 – 48). Most of the donors to the Green Coat School Library were a who’s who of early 18th century Cork life: clergy, brigadier general, sheriffs, a lord mayor and gentry. Examples of provenance include signatures in the hand of the donor, stamps and former classification scheme markings. There are no bookplates, mottoes, armorial stamps or ciphers as evidence of provenance in the collection.
Donors As Listed In Pietas Corcagiensis
Brigadier General Stearne: 37 titles.
Reverend the incumbent of the parish (presumably Maule): 132 items.
Morley, Esq., Mayor of Cork in the year 1718: 4 items.
Arkwright, Esq.: 2 items
Right Honourable Early of Inchiquin: 3 items
Daniel Thresher: 6 items
Charles Maule: 25 items
Richard Pomeroy: 3 items
Henry Sheares: 7 items
Sheriff Austin: 3 items
Sherrif Croker: 10 items
provenance: 38 items.
Many of the items Maule donated are ecclesiastical in nature. According to ESTC Of the Sacraments in General is held in Great Britain in Cambridge colleges, Oxford colleges and cathedral libraries. It not that unusual that a 17th century Anglo-Irish bishop has acquired a copy. Knowing one’s catechism played a fundamental role in the Green Coat School.
Samuel Croker was Sheriff in Cork, a court officer elected by the freemen of the borough. Laud’s A Relation of the Conference is a good example of the interest in publishing material to doctrine and religious controversy in the late 17th century. This item is significant as it contains fragments of an old almanac used as strengtheners in the binding and has a variety of annotations.
In the Green Coat School Minute Book (U.335) is a list of subscribers to the School including Mr Bowyer (p.13). He donated money and A Rational Account of the Grounds of Protestant by Edward Stillingfleet for unknown reasons. Stillingfleet was a remarkable scholar and preacher and much of his library is now in Marsh’s Library in Dublin. This title is in two collections in UCC Library and is one of 29 works by Stillingfleet held between the Green Coat School Collection and St Fin Barre’s Cathedral Library. The aforementioned conference is between Laud and Fisher which further shows how important Laud was at this time. The manuscript note reads ‘Mr Bowyer, bookseller in London, to the Green-Coat Hospitall of St Mary Shandon, Corke.’
Henry Arkwright was a customs’ port officer in Cork at this time. Arkwright donated two different editions of Burnet’s History. This copy is a ‘4th edition’ but no 3rd edition was published by Burnet. This title is a good example of how popular titles were.
Gold tooling of letters stamped on front board. Name: Henry Arkwright, Esq.
Gold tooling of letters stamped horizontally on back board. Name: Shandon Charity School Library.
The Pomeroys were a prominent Cork family. This is one of the many Books of Common Prayer in the GCSC. In total 21 items were stamped with ‘Shandon Charity School.’ From the Green Coat School Minute Book it is “Ordered that the books given to the library be lettered by Combra (?) Daniel.” (2 February 1720). It is unknown how many tradesmen were engaged in gold lettering but it is likely that Combra (?) Daniel also did other gold lettering for Arkwright and Pomeroy.
Little recent research has been conducted on the Green Coat School Library either as a stand-alone institution, as a library within the coat school system or on the survival rating of coat school libraries. To date most scholarship was conducted between the 1940s and the 1970s (see the articles in the Journal of Cork Historical and Archaeological Society listed in the bibliography). Further work could be carried out on the bindings, older classification schemes and fragments in the binding throughout the collection.
Plutarch. The Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romanes / compared together by that graue learned philosopher and historiographer, Plutarke of Chaeronea; translated out of Greeke into French by Iames Amyot … and out of French into Englishe by Thomas North. London: Imprinted by Thomas Vautroullier and Iohn VVight, 1579.
When listing archives even the smallest collections can draw you into the lives and works of the individuals who inhabit the material. Such was the case when I recently listed the Francis S. Mahony Collection. The collection consists of just five items, with the key item being an autographed final verse of the poem ‘The Bells of Shandon’ by the Cork born humourist and journalist Francis S. Mahony, better known as ‘Father Prout’.
Francis S. Mahony, aka Father Prout
Francis Sylvester Mahony (1804-1866) was born in Cork on 31 December 1804 to Martin Mahony, co-founder of the Blarney Woollen Mills, and his second wife, Mary Mahony. He attended Clongowes Wood College from 1815 to 1819 before continuing his education at Jesuit colleges in Amiens and Rome and beginning his novitiate at the Jesuit seminary in Paris. He returned to Clongowes in 1825 where he was appointed master of rhetoric but lost his position following a night of heavy drinking with his students. Despite his subsequent expulsion from the Jesuits, he was ordained as a priest in 1832 and appointed chaplain of the Cork Cholera Hospital during the outbreak of an epidemic in the city. However, tensions with his bishop led him to abandon his ordination and, in 1834, he moved to London where he became a leading contributor to Fraser’s Magazine (and later Bentley’s Miscellany) writing under the pseudonym ‘Father Prout’.
The character of Prout was named after a real Father Prout from Watergrasshill, Co. Cork who had died in 1830. In the essay ‘Dean Swift’s Madness’, Mahony describes his fictional Prout as the child of Jonathan Swift and Stella. His essays, later collected as The Reliques of Father Prout, contain fabricated biographical details of the life of Prout alongside his reflections on life and literature. At the time of their publication they were much admired for their sharp wit and entertaining style, with subjects of ridicule including Thomas Moore and Daniel O’Connell (the latter given the moniker ‘Dandeleon’). They secured a wide readership and established Mahony’s reputation, enabling him to mingle with many distinguished artists and literary figures of the day, including Thackery, Dickens and Maclise.
“The Bells of Shandon”
Interspersed throughout his essays are several original poems, together with translations of verse from (and into) various languages, including Latin, Greek and French. The best-known example of his poetic output is ‘The Bells of Shandon’, a nostalgic poem about Cork. The style of the poem is clearly captured in the first verse:
With deep affection and recollection I oft times think of those Shandon bells Whose sound so wild would In days of childhood Fling round my cradle their magic spells, On this I ponder, where’er I wander, And thus grow fonder sweet Cork of thee While thy bells of Shandon sound far more grand on The pleasant waters of the river Lee.
The bells being referred to are those housed in the tower of the Church of St. Anne in Shandon on the north-side of the city of Cork. With its gold salmon weather vane and situation overlooking the River Lee, the tower is a noted landmark in the city. The poem appears in the essay ‘The Rogueries of Tom Moore’, a satirical take-down in which Prout accuses Moore of having plagiarised his work for the composition of ‘Evening Bells, a Petersburg Air’ during a visit to Cork.
The copy within the Francis S. Mahony Collection (see below) is an autographed final verse of the poem in Mahony’s hand. The printed version reads as follows:
There’s a bell in Moscow, while on tower and kiosk O! In Saint Sophia the Turkman gets, And loud in air calls men to prayer, From the tapering summit of tall minarets; Such empty phantom I freely grant them, But there’s an anthem more dear to me- ‘Tis the bells of Shandon that sound so grand on The pleasant waters of the river Lee.
However, a letter from Peter Burke accompanying the verse notes that the handwritten version corrects a common misprint, with the term “Kiosk, O !” in the first line corrected to “Kiosko”.
The poem remains the most enduring of Mahony’s work and has since become a popular song, a rendition of which can be listened to on website of the Irish Traditional Music Archive.
Mahony left London in 1837 to travel to the Continent. He was Rome correspondent for the Daily News from 1846 to 1858 before settling in Paris where he was correspondent for The Globe until his death in 1866. Following his death, his remains were brought to Cork where they were interred in the family vault in St. Anne’s Shandon Graveyard.
The Burke Connection
In terms of the provenance of the item, the collection contains four additional items unrelated to O’Mahony: two letters from Peter Burke (1811–1881) to a Miss Gould of Beaconsfield, and two letters from Sir John Bernard Burke (1814–1892) also to Miss Gould.
Peter Burke was an English barrister, serjeant-at-law, and writer. He was the son of John Burke, an Irish genealogist, and the original publisher of Burke’s Peerage. In the first of his letters, dated 10 November 1855, he refers to the enclosed “far-famed and exquisite lyric” which he had Mahony write for Miss Gould during a recent visit to Dublin (and notes Mahony’s correction). In both of his letters, the second dated 13 March 1860, he discusses his research into the life and work of the Irish politician and philosopher Edmund Burke, widely regarded as the father of modern conservatism. Peter Burke published two works on Edmund Burke: The Wisdom and Genius of the Right Hon. Edmund Burke in 1845 and The Public and Domestic Life of the Right Hon. Edmund Burke in 1853, as well as several works on legal matters.
Regarding the identity of Miss Gould, she appears to be one of the daughters of John Gould, Rector of the Beaconsfield Rectory in Buckinghamshire, with the letters including references to Peter Burke’s visits to the rectory and Edmund Burke’s burial and memorial at Beaconsfield. The collection ends on something of a melancholy note. The final two letters are from Peter’s brother, Sir John Bernard Burke, who took over publication of Burke’s Peerage (and related titles) following the death of their father. In his first letter, dated 18 August 1869, he informs Miss Gould of his brother’s illness. His second letter, dated 6 April 1879, tells that his brother is in the same state he has been for years, unable to leave his room or see anyone. It concludes: “I have however conveyed to him the kind remembrance you entertain of him, and those old times when he delighted to visit Beaconsfield.” Peter Burke died two years later, on 26 March 1881.