by Bill Haneman
(Skerries Historical Society Meeting – September 2017)
Summer is over, the nights are drawing in. Boys – and girls – are, once more, creeping like snails unwillingly to school. On the bright side, the end of the summer also heralds the return of Skerries Historical Society to The Bus Bar on the second Tuesday of each month. This month’s presentation was ‘Early Printed Maps of Ireland: a Skerries Perspective’ by Bill Haneman and the crowd who braved inclement weather on the 12th of September for his talk were treated to a veritable visual feast.
Bill has been beguiled by maps of all kinds for many years. He began by introducing his audience to one of the earliest cartographers, Claudius Ptolemy, who produced his Geographia c. AD 150. Ptolemy didn’t just make a map or two, he gave instructions on how to construct them. That’s just as well since none of his maps survive – but learned mediaeval monks were able to reproduce them from his latitude and longitude coordinates which do survive. These maps and the ones that followed were not merely informative, they were works of art. There was nothing a map artist liked so well as to embellish his work with fabulous sea monsters threatening ships with billowing sails.
The Down Survey, with attendant maps, is famous – or infamous – in Ireland. Immediately after the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland in the 1650s, William Petty, surgeon general in Cromwell’s army, oversaw the most detailed land survey ever attempted on a national scale. He did rather skimp on areas where land was held by those loyal to the English Parliamentarians as the whole purpose was to relieve rebellious Catholics of their land and give it to those more deserving of it!
Report by Oona Roycroft
Click on an image to enlarge and scroll through the gallery.