The Oireachtas Library & Research Service holds a collection of historical documents dating from the 16th century. In these exhibitions we highlight some of the fascinating items in our collection. Search our catalogue if you are looking for something specific, or if you would like to browse the entire collection.
Maps combine art, history and geography but also commercial interests and can take on agendas as well. The Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (Theatre of the World) by Abraham Ortelius was a sublime combination of these and was the first effort to bind together maps in a universal format with descriptive text, what we now know as an atlas. The name atlas is used for a collection of maps or charts usually bound together and derives from a custom which was initiated by cartographer Gerardus Mercator in the 16th century of using the figure of Atlas, shown holding a globe, as a frontispiece for books of maps. We are fortunate in having a map of Ireland from the 1592 edition of the Theatrum in our collection but we also have some later maps of interest