Rocque’s Plan of the City 1756 and 1757 now online

From "Survey of the city and suburbs of Dublin" (1757)

From “Survey of the city and suburbs of Dublin” (1757)

After arriving in Dublin about 1754, John Rocque began his famous surveys of the city. In total, Rocque published six maps of the city; all the more impressive given the short time he spent here. The first was his “Exact Survey of the City and Suburbs of Dublin“. This was published in 1756, and  provides glorious detail of every corner of the city and its suburbs. You can have your very own reduced size copy from the Royal Irish Academy,* or view it online at the Bibliothèque nationale de France at this link. This was later updated by Bernard Scalé, and you can see how useful the comparison is in my previous article on Hume St and Ely Place. This was followed in quick succession by a Survey of the City and Suburbs of Dublin, now also online, and a Survey of the City, Harbour, Bay and Environs of Dublin, online here. Rocque wrote in an accompanying guide to the latter:

But we see in this Map, that Dublin is one of the finest and largest Cities of Europe, as well on Account of its Quays, which reach with Order and Regularity from one End of the Town to the other, as on Account of a great many grand Buildings in different parts on either Side; for instance Kildare house, the Barracks, Hospitals, Parliament-house, the College, and the Castle, which is the residence of the Lord Lieutenent, &c. and also on account of several spacious and magnificent Streets, the Gardens, Walks, &c

In this guide, Rocque also offers his opinion of the locals. They are “frank, polite, affable, make it their pleasure to live much with each other and their Honour to treat Strangers with Politeness and Civility“.

In 1760, he published An Actual Survey of the County of Dublin, which is magnificent—it reaches as far south as Lord Powerscourt’s recently revitalised estate outside Enniskerry in County Wicklow (Rocque knew who paid the bills). That one is visible in the Map Library of TCD. Other maps included an undated precursor to his 1756 map and a 1762 map of the baronies of Dublin, probably published by his wife after his death.

Click and enjoy these beautiful maps!


  • *Lennon and Montagues’ book on Rocque’s plan of the city is a must read for cartophiles: Colm Lennon and John Montague, 2010, John Rocque’s Dublin: A Guide to the Georgian City, Royal Irish Academy, Dublin.
  • F O’K (1974) John Rocque on Dublin and Dubliners 1756, Dublin Historical Record, 27(4), 146-147.
  • B. P. Bowen (1948) John Rocque’s Maps of Dublin, Dublin Historical Record, 9(4), 117-127.


Book Lovers at Kevin St Library, 1918

For all of my librarian and library-loving friends… The following is recorded in The Irish Book Lover in 1918.

Bibliographical Society of Ireland

(National Library of Ireland)

(National Library of Ireland)

The Society visited the Public Library, Lower Kevin Street, Dublin, on Saturday, the 22nd June, 1918, and were heartily welcomed by Mr. J. P. Whelan, the librarian; who showed them a number of rare works at present in the Library, including a volume of Malton’s views of Dublin, old catalogues, rare pamphlets, manuscripts, maps, etc.

Mr. Dix, the Chairman of the Society, warmly thanked Mr. Whelan for the very kind reception he had given them at their visit, and pointed out what valuable material the Library contained for Students of Irish History, Antiquities, etc, and stated that Mr. Whelan had for years welcomed additions to the Library of that kind, had carefully preserved them, and fully appreciated the value of even the smallest pamphlet dealing with Dublin or Irish subjects generally. In commemoration of the visit he presented an old map of Ireland, and said he hoped the members of the Society would, from time to time, visit this Library and make use of its resources, and added that he was sure that Mr. Whelan would welcome gifts to the Library.

Mr Whelan suitably replied, acknowledging with pleasure what had been said, and gave some particulars of the foundation and development of the Library, which now contains some 10,000 volumes, but owing to limited resources at present available to the Corporation for the purpose; and the necessary expense of upkeep of five Municipal Libraries and Art Galleries in Harcourt Street, further progress was at present slow. He hoped that the Members would come again to visit the Library, where they would be always welcome. He then took Members of the Deputation around the Library, pointing out the classes of books and stated that the system of classification followed what was known as the “Dewey” system.

He then brought he deputation into the fine large Reference Room, where they examined the case of specimens of Dublin book-binding, etc, and views, etc, round the wall. Mr Whelan also opened the presses along the length of the room and showed the members some of the rare books useful to Students, both relating to Ireland and other places. Here are kept the books not only on antiquity but also on Irish music, Irish language, Irish magazines, etc. The members of the Society enjoyed a most pleasant afternoon, and hope that their visit will testify to their appreciation of Mr. Whelan’s work and efforts in developing this Library and also make it better known to students of various Irish subjects. It is hoped that the next visit of the Society will be to the Royal Irish Academy.”

The Irish Book Lover is available to read in the National Library of Ireland and Trinity College Library Early Books collection. I’ll be revisiting Kevin Street Library, currently undergoing extensive restoration, soon.

The Way that I Went

praegerRobert Lloyd Praeger’s The Way That I Went has just been reprinted by Collins Press. The book charts Praeger’s treks through Ireland and the natural history he recorded along the way. Praeger lived at 19 Fitzwilliam Square when he wrote the book, and the preface, written from number 19, opens with some lines from James Thomson:

Let my voice ring out and over the earth, / Through all grief and strife / With a golden joy in a silver mirth: / Thank God for Life!

Praeger set about full time fieldwork and academic work after stepping down as Head Librarian at the National Library of Ireland in 1923. He became President of the Royal Irish Academy in 1931. After his wife died in 1952, he moved back north and died the following year, 5th May 1953, at his sister’s house—an event also commemorated by a plaque.

The Irish Naturalist’s Journal, which Praeger co-founded and edited carried an article to mark the unveiling of his plaque on Fitzwilliam Square in 1987. The plaque was unveiled by Professor David Webb of Trinity College in a ceremony involving representation from the Dublin Naturalists Field Club, the Royal Irish Academy, the National Botanic Gardens and the Belfast Naturalists Field Club, which Praeger joined aged 11.

19 Fitzwilliam Square (Google Streetview)

19 Fitzwilliam Square (Google Streetview)


Patrick Reilly (1988), Unveiling of Plaque to Robert Lloyd Praeger, The Irish Naturalists’ Journal, 22(10), 456-457