Map mak­ers and Wick­low through the cen­turies


Wicklow People (West Edition) - - INTERVIEW -

MAPS. Don’t you just love ’em! Works of art. Tools of many trades. Big maps, small maps, func­tional maps, dec­o­ra­tive maps. In an age of satel­lite guided nav­i­ga­tion, Pat Reid still rev­els in maps, the older the bet­ter and best of all if Glen­dalough is fea­tured. A Kil­dare man liv­ing in Glen­dalough, he is the lead­ing light in the Her­itage Maps project which is sup­ported by the Her­itage Coun­cil.

And, with some back­ing from the county coun­cil, he has com­piled an ex­hi­bi­tion of maps now on show around the walls of the main func­tion room at the Brocagh Cen­tre. They range over time from the ed­u­cated guess­work of the early 17th cen­tury to the high-tech im­agery of the new mil­len­nium. The re­sult is a step by step pro­gres­sion through hu­man per­cep­tion of place and land­scape, cov­er­ing more than 400 years.

The show in the Brocagh has around 30 re­pro­duc­tions, the tip of a much larger ice­berg. Pat reck­ons to have as­sem­bled at least 400 old maps of Ire­land, the orig­i­nals of which are held in col­lec­tions around the world. The ear­li­est he has on file date back to the 15th cen­tury, based on the work of Ptolemy who lived and worked in 2nd cen­tury Egypt.

Spell­ing, as the first ex­hibit demon­strates, was not al­ways the hard and fast thing of to­day. Yes, Glen­dalough shows up promi­nently in the map drawn by Matthias Quad pub­lished in Ger­many dur­ing 1600. But it is ren­dered ‘Glan­dalag’, close to the town of ‘Wykelo’, with ‘Balky­glas’ fur­ther in­land – pre­sum­ably that’s Balt­in­glass in mod­ern par­lance.

Hot on the heels of Quad came a Bel­gian ef­fort of 1608 which dodged the is­sue of how to spell Glen­dalough very neatly. The fa­mous place of pil­grim­age is la­belled ‘XI Churches’. Pre­sum­ably the XI is eleven in Latin nu­mer­als, though ‘VII Churches’ would prob­a­bly have been more ac­cu­rate.

Glen­dalough was clearly big news in the 17 th cen­tury. The map of Ire­land com­piled by Philip Briet for pub­li­ca­tion in Paris in 1648 shows ‘Glan­de­loure’ on a par with ‘Vichlo’ and ‘Are­clo’, the only three towns in all of the county. Map mak­ing around this time was some­thing of Chi­nese whis­pers ex­er­cise, as there was no way the com­pil­ers could visit all the places they showed on their charts. In­stead, they pla­gia­rised like mad from each other, with of­ten dodgy re­sults.

Pat Reid in­cludes a map is­sued in 1705 which sug­gests that lit­tle progress had been made since Briet’s ef­fort, with the ad­di­tion of a jum­ble of crosses to un­der­line the ho­li­ness of ‘Glan­de­loure’. Shortly af­ter­wards, a man called Ni­cholas San­son pre­sented Glen­dalough as ‘7 Churches’ with a lit­tle cir­cle to rep­re­sent each church.

Most re­li­able is the Down Sur­vey of Ire­land which was un­der­taken in the mid-1650s by Wil­liam Petty, ac­knowl­edged to be the world’s first de­tailed land sur­vey. Petty’s County Wick­low had room for ‘Aghamanagh’ and Hol­ly­wood while Glen­dalough was ren­dered ‘Kil­dalagh, with the seven churches marked as seven black dots.

AVERY well in­formed Her­man Moll re­ferred in 1714 to ‘The 7 Churchs at Glan­de­l­ogh’. His knowl­edge also stretched to ‘Glenely’ and Round­wood as well as the head of the river ‘Liffy’ – all in a cor­rectly ren­dered Wick­low: ‘Moll was a very fa­mous Ger­man map maker,’ stresses Pat. ‘He in­cluded town plans on his maps. I don’t be­lieve he was ever in Ire­land.’

By 1755, it was com­mon prac­tice to ren­der the let­ter ‘S’ in a form which looks to mod­ern eyes like an ‘F’. So we may ad­mire de­tail such as the ‘Black Ca tle’ be­side Wick­low town, with some­where called ‘Dun­gan ton’ not far away.

Then in 1759 Thomas Jef­freys promised a ‘New and Ac­cu­rate Map of the King­dom of Ire­land’. Jef­freys pro­claimed the lo­ca­tions of Rath­drum and ‘Balt­in­glas’ ( just one ‘S’, thanks) with­out any shilly­ing or shal­ly­ing. But he was caught be­tween ‘The 7 Churches’ and ‘Glan­de­l­ogh’ so he in­cluded both names.

Pat Reid has a par­tic­u­lar af­fec­tion for a man called John Roque whose map of the is­land – di­vided into prov­inces, coun­ties and bar­onies – went on sale in 1790. Ap­par­ently, Roque was not con­tent merely to tran­scribe from the work of his pre­de­ces­sors. He was ac­tive on the ground in Ire­land for many years, em­ployed by land­hold­ers to make plans of their es­tates. He died in 1762 but his work was so well thought of that Robert Sayer of Lon­don was happy to pub­lish it al­most three decades af­ter his pass­ing.

The con­ven­tions of car­tog­ra­phy were not en­tirely well es­tab­lished as one ef­fort from 1791 shows. With north at the bot­tom of the sheet and south at the top, it makes for un­com­fort­able view­ing through mod­ern eyes.

By 1811, Lon­don based Aaron Ar­row­smith was mak­ing a de­cent ef­fort to con­vey some no­tion of the hills and val­leys around ‘Glan­dalough’ and, in­deed, all of Ire­land. The re­sult gives the im­pres­sion that his map has been man-han­dled by some­one with very dirty fin­ger-prints as neat con­tour lines were not yet in vogue Such was the price of tech­ni­cal progress, as the ef­fect was not the most pleas­ing on the eye.

It was not un­til 1830 that the fa­mil­iar ‘Glen’ form of the word be­gins to take root in Glen­dalough. The ex­hi­bi­tion presents a sec­tion

of a map, is­sued in Leipzig in that year. The splen­didly named Wil­liam Ernst Au­gust von Sch­lieben was re­spon­si­ble and he clearly had good con­nec­tions in West Wick­low. His map of Le­in­ster picks out the likes of Dunlavin, Donard and Strat­ford.

Glen­dalough is shown as ‘Glen­du­logh’, the start of a trend. Within a year of two, Ar­row­smith had seen the er­ror of his ways and his re­vised ver­sion of 1832 was ‘Glen­dalogh’, edg­ing closer again to the up-to-date for­mat. By 1838 the well-in­ten­tioned ‘So­ci­ety for the Dif­fu­sion of Use­ful Knowl­edge (Great Bri­tain) was slap bang up to date with ‘Glen­dalough’.

The evo­lu­tion of the name was com­plete, with Ash­ford, Round­wood, Annamoe and the Devil’s Glen also charted, to name only a few. This was around the time that the mea­sure­ments and ob­ser­va­tion of the Govern­ment sanc­tioned Ord­nance Sur­vey be­gan pro­duc­ing maps and data which were de­fin­i­tive.

‘Their maps were the most ac­cu­rate and up to date in the world at the time and they still stand up to­day,’ says Pat. The work of the Ord­nance Sur­vey fed into com­mer­cial pro­duc­tions which con­tin­ued to find buy­ers.

The map mak­ers be­gan to re­alise that Glen­dalough, for all its fame as a cen­tre of pil­grim­age and fes­tive gatherings, did not have a large pop­u­la­tion. So it was in 1851 that an or­nate map of Ire­land ap­peared in New York with no men­tion what­so­ever of the place, though the com­pil­ers found room for Kil­bride, Red­cross, New­cas­tle and some­where they styled Killincar­rig. Killincar­rig? That must be Grey­stones, more re­cently one of the fastest grow­ing towns in Europe but un­til late in the 19th cen­tury of lit­tle sig­nif­i­cance. The New York­ers, by the way, made up for the lack of Glen­dalough by bright­en­ing up their pub­li­ca­tion with a grandiose illustration of a round tower which was cer­tainly in­spired by the tower at Glen­dalough.

The name Seven Churches lin­gered on un­til at least 1933 as the bright­est ex­hibit in the Brocagh Cen­tre con­firms. ‘Pratts High Test Plan of Ire­land’ was cir­cu­lated to mo­torists bent on ex­plor­ing the coun­try­side. The round tower is once more makes an ap­pear­ance at Glen­dalough/Seven Churches.

‘This map was pub­lished by the An­glo-Amer­i­can Oil Com­pany and sent out to cus­tomers as a treat,’ reck­ons Pat Reid. ‘It is a fun map, with things to do in Ire­land. There is an Esso ver­sion as well.’ The Pratts map of­fered the fol­low­ing: ‘Saint Pa­trick turned King O’Toole and his six big sons into the Seven Churches.’ That is cer­tainly good to know.

THE se­lec­tion in the ex­hi­bi­tion brings map-mak­ing into the 21st cen­tury, with tech­niques that go be­neath the sur­face of the land de­ployed. In 2014, for in­stance, UCD ar­chae­ol­o­gists over­laid the old Ord­nance Sur­vey chart with the re­sults of a mag­ne­tome­ter sur­vey which as­sisted them in de­cid­ing where to dig.

And last year Coillte used a tech­nique called Lidar (the name stands for light de­tec­tion and rang­ing) to peer down from above through the trees to pick out all the humps and bumps be­low The cold an­a­lyt­i­cal in­sight of Lidar is a world away from the schol­arly imag­i­na­tion of Matthias Quad.

Pat Reid with lo­cal his­to­rian Joan Ka­vanagh.

LEFT: Pat Reid. ABOVE: A 20th-cen­tury map.

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