The Joy of the Chase
The British Isles from John Speed's Theatrum Imperii Magnae Britanniae or Theatre of the Empire of Great Britain.
From The Counties of Britain: A Tudor Atlas by John Speed. New York: Thames & Hudson, 1989, p. 22-3.
During the 1980s I traveled fairly frequently to Europe in trying to persuade automobile manufacturers to install safety air bags in their motor vehicles. I found treasure troves of old Irish maps and sea charts in Ireland, England and Germany. In most large European cities sellers of old prints are likely to have old maps for sale also. In London and Munich there are dealers who only buy and sell old maps.
Always on the prowl, I once searched for old Irish maps in Gothenburg, Sweden. Unsuccessful on that trail, I was yet able to buy a 1798 engraving of George Washington. It now hangs in the Washington Room of the Army Navy Club along with a 1796 engraving of the Battle of Bunker Hill that I purchased in Boston. Both engravings were published by A.C. dePoggi in London and are after Trumbull's famous paintings of those subjects.
Why collect old maps of Ireland, you may ask? Well, I am of Irish blood, I studied at Notre Dame, and Ireland was unique in that it remained for centuries the westernmost land known to the ancients. So far out on the known periphery of nations was Ireland that it never became part of the great Roman Empire.
Where to begin this discussion of the Irish maps and sea charts here at Notre Dame? Let's start at what may be close to the end, although I pray that the end is not yet near. In 1991 my wife Betty and I gave to Notre Dame 72 original printed maps of Ireland dating from 1567 to the mid-1700s in memory of Betty's father, David J. Butler, a native Irishman who loved this school. We also gave the university 12 original printed sea charts of Ireland dating from 1584 to 1759 in memory of my parents Thomas and Helen McGrath whose sacrifices permitted me to study here ever so briefly.
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