For a high resolution image and PDF of this map click: Map of Munster

Two coloured engraved maps - "The Countie of Leinster" and "The Province of Mounster"

by cartographer John Speed (1552-1629)

From the Dublin Castle Archival Material Collection, DCA00103

Map of the province of Mounster [Munster]

Date of 1610 printed on map; published 1616

This is a beautifully engraved and hand-coloured map by John Speed (1552-1629) of the Irish southern province of Munster. Though dated 1610 and mentioning the names of John Sudbury and George Humble [London based publishers], it was 1616 before it was actually published in Amsterdam by Jodocus II Hondius with the assistance of George Humble, who also acted as Speed’s editor. The map is embellished with an engraving of a man [a cartographer?] brandishing a large pair of dividers, while he stands on top of the scale of Irish miles; in Youghal harbour is a galleon [ship] and in the Atlantic is a boy playing the harp whilst sitting astride a fabulous winged sea creature.

There are two inset town plans on the map of the most prominent towns in the province at the time - Cork and Limerick, both of which were fortified with large town walls and built on rivers. The map is replete with the names of local clans and families. Present day Munster is made up of six Irish counties but the province has to this day many ancient castles and monasteries that can be found on this map.

John Speed was famous in his lifetime for the production of two extremely fine atlases. The first in 1612 was entitled The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine (which was the first atlas devoted to the British Isles only and which contained the first detailed maps of the provinces of Ireland, where Speed drew on earlier cartographic works by Christopher Saxton and John Norden). The Theatre of Great Britain went through many reprints and editions. In 1627, Speed's publisher added an additional foreign supplement, the first of its kind to be published in England called A Prospect of the Most Famous Parts of the World published in 1627 - this was the very first atlas of the world to be published by an Englishman.

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