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Greenough's World - Ireland

Detail of Alexander Nimmo's geological map of Connemara, c.1813. [Greenough collection LDGSL/947/6/F/2] Click to enlarge

We are fundraising for the digital preservation of maps of Ireland which are connected to the work of Sir Richard Griffith (1784-1878).

Richard Griffith’s Geological Maps of Ireland

The earliest known geological map of the whole of Ireland was published in the ‘Atlas to accompany the second Report of the Railway Commissioners of Ireland’, 1838. Yet the map’s author, Richard Griffith, is thought to have been working on the map from at least 1810 at the behest of his friend George Bellas Greenough, who suggested that it could be a companion piece to his own planned ‘Geological Map of England & Wales’.

Griffith produced various drafts of his geological map of Ireland before its publication in 1838, but the first was likely to have been compiled for a series of lectures Griffith gave at the Dublin Society in March 1814. At the end of the previous year Griffith had written to Greenough complaining that Alexander Taylor’s map of Ireland was on too small a scale for public exhibition, and asked if Greenough could send him Aaron Arrowsmith's much larger map. Additionally, could Greenough also pencil in any geological observations that he had made during the two men’s travels around Galway and Mayo in the summer of 1813? Whichever map was used by Griffith (he is known to have used both at some time or other), it and any of the subsequent drafts have never been traced.

  GBG log 3a
Taylor map
Map 1 - Geological colouring on Taylor's 'A New Map of Ireland', c.1813-1820s
The base map, 'A New Map of Ireland', by Alexander Taylor, published by William Faden, 1793, is that referred to by Griffith in 1813. There is a handwritten key and some notes by Greenough, but no other information is known about it. The colouring is rather neat, unlike many of Greenough’s other maps which are more loosely coloured. The key indicates only nine rock categories - as opposed to the 20 units which are on Griffith’s map of 1838. The lithology bears some similarity to that which appears in the geological map of the South of Ireland (1816) by Thomas Weaver, who, coincidentally, Griffith accused of plagiarism. Could this be a lost copy of one of Griffith’s earlier maps? Scale-1:700,000, 82cm x 64cm. [LDGSL/947/6/F/4]  

LDGSL 947- 6-F-5A Map 2 - Incomplete geological colouring on Griffith's 'A General Map of Ireland...', c.1847-1855
In 1839, Griffith issued a larger, quarter-inch scale version of his geological map. The only large-scale topographical map available at the time was the error-strewn version by Aaron Arrowsmith. For Griffith’s map a new topographical base map was compiled by Lt Thomas Aiskew Larcom of the Irish Ordnance Survey. As it was the first accurate map of the whole of Ireland, demand for it was high, and it could be purchased uncoloured for 20 shillings. 

The colouring of this map, presumably by Greenough, is on a blank copy of Griffith's base map. Despite differences in hue, the colouring (on the SW & SE sheets only) seems to be relatively faithful to Griffith's original. Scale-1:250,000. 6 sheets, each 63cm x 81cm. [LDGSL/947/6/F/5] 

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