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RCB Library Notes

An important map showing the development of Glasnevin, in Dublin

The Archive of the Month from the RCB Library for March shines a spotlight on a beautiful map that makes up part of Ms 1104, a recent addition to the RCB Library’s extensive manuscript collection. This collection contains the papers of the Hon Rt Revd Charles Dalrymple Lindsay (1760–1846), Dean of Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, and Bishop of Kildare (1804–46). It also contains a fascinating diary of the Bishop’s wife, Catherine Eliza Coussmaker (died 1837), who detailed the family’s journey from England to Ireland in 1801, to start the family’s new life in Ireland.
The map of Glasnevin that accompanies the deed. RCB Library Ms 1104/8.
The map of Glasnevin that accompanies the deed. RCB Library Ms 1104/8.

Although beautifully illustrated, there is little doubt that this map was executed for legal purposes. It was located with a deed dated 22 October 1833, between “The Right Reverend Father in God, Charles, Lord Bishop of Kildare of the Cathedral Church of the Holy and Undivided Trinity, Dublin, of the one part, and The Honorable William John Gore of the City of Dublin on the other part”. The map was surveyed by John Longfield in 1807, and was certainly not intended as a guide to the area for an early 19th–century traveller. Parcels of land are divided accordingly, and much care is given to denoting the land value and rates, as well as the owners of neighbouring parcels of land, and in some instances, their relationship with Christ Church Cathedral. It is also significant that prominent buildings that were in existence at the time – including the Bishop’s own residence – are not shown. This residence, Glasnevin House, would have been an imposing presence in the town, being located north of the Tolka river and north–west of the small cluster of houses that formed Glasnevin at this time. Indeed, it remains an imposing building today, being the Convent of the Holy Faith complex, albeit with significant additions.

The map is focused primarily on the area surrounding Glasnevin village, incorporating areas that would be familiar to Dubliners today, such as Cross Guns, as well as references to Drumcondra to the east and the ‘Lands of Finglass’ towards the north. What is striking is what is not visually depicted. For example, although the Botanic Gardens were founded here in 1795, the only reference that the map makes to their presence is a plot of land labelled ‘The Dublin Society under Christ Church’.

The river Tolka is of course a prominent feature, displayed in blue running diagonally from west to east, also in view is the then recently–constructed Royal Canal. Work on the momentous canal had begun some 17 years before John Longfield surveyed the area for this map. Indeed, construction work began at Westmoreland Bridge – now known as Cross Guns Bridge, shown at the bottom of this map. It is interesting to note that at the time when the area was surveyed, the Royal Canal was not yet fully–constructed and would only be completed when it reached the River Shannon in 1817.

This map – much like the Lindsay collection of which it is a part – is an important document for historians as well as for genealogists researching family members who lived in the area at this time. It provides visual cartographic evidence that predates the Ordnance Survey maps for this area, in which detailed lists of landowners or tenants who lived in this area at the beginning of the 19th century are included.

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