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The Irish road network in 1778

  • 27-02-2009 10:05pm
    Closed Accounts Posts: 6,093 Amtmann

    In my place of work I have access to the first real road map of Ireland, a book commissioned in late summer 1776 and published in 1778, replete with many illustrations including one large foldout map of the entire island. This map was published on 13 November 1778 in Taylor and Skinner's Maps of the Roads of Ireland. It was republished in 1968 by Dr J.H. Andrews, the early modern cartographic historian.

    Almost all of the main T roads and future N roads were in place by this time. However, taking the route from Cork to Dublin as an example, travellers left Cork and travelled north as far as Mitchelstown before they then took what is now the R665 (Mitchelstown - Ballyporeen - Clogheen) to Clonmel and then onwards via the old T6 (Clonmel - Kilkenny - Kilcullen - Naas; today's N24, N76, N9 and N7), rather than head to Clonmel via Cahir.

    The N7, N8, and N6 were all in place in 1778 however, though pavement quality was probably extremely poor in many parts.

    I photocopied the map today but the machine jammed up so I'm missing the northern counties. The copy I made is size A3, so it's awkward to photograph, but I have taken pictures of parts of the map which I post here now for anyone who's interested to look at. I have crudely lined the county borders in blue ink.








    I have come across a reference to a document from the 1660s about a fruit merchant from Kilkenny robbed by highwaymen on the road to Dublin. The historian who cited the document was more concerned with the economy of the time (i.e. the penetration of merchantable New World goods into it) than with the road network; but it might be possible to pinpoint the precise road that the incident occurred on. I'm not researching Irish history at the moment though, so it will be a long time before I get a chance to look at it.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 36 ✭✭✭ Serafina27

    That is a really incredible map! How very cool!!

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 6,093 Amtmann

    I think we can do better again - here is Moll's Map of 1714:

    You can zoom in on this excellent colour map. Roads are shown in grey.

    The N8/R639 did not exist in 1714 between Mitchelstown and Cahir, nor between Cashel and Urlingford! That appears to be because Urlingford, Littleton etc. did not exist at the time.

    Any other notable absenses?

    You can fairly easily tell the very old (pre 1700s roads) apart from from the 1700s-built turnpike roads even today. For instance, the broad, straight national roads of today (parts of the N7, most of the N8, etc.) were built in the early- to mid-1700s; the older roads (dating from medieval times) are the ones that everyone gives out about today: the narrow, twisty N9; and the treacherous - but wonderfully quaint and haunted - N76 between Clonmel and Kilkenny, for example.

    The history of our roads is, in many respects, the history of Ireland.

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 6,093 Amtmann

    Much of the old N8 from Cashel to around Durrow was built in the 1730s from scratch.

    The N74 was also built around 1739, while much of the N25 was constructed in the 1790s. Much of the N7 was similarly built or massively improved in the early to mid 1730s.

    It seems the eighteenth century was indeed one of massive road building - all turnpikes, incidentally.


  • Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators Posts: 10,900 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Ponster

    JUst a post to say "Thanks!" for the wonderful maps.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,045 ✭✭✭ GhostInTheRuins

    Yes indeed, thanks for these maps.
    Furet wrote: »

    There's something in this map that I've never seen before, the area that is known nowadays as Westmeath is simply called Meath on that map, and the current Meath is called Eastmeath.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 6,045 ✭✭✭ GhostInTheRuins

    I've just read in the op that the map is the Taylor and Skinner 1778 map, I've attached the original full map if anyone's interested.

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,731 MarchDub

    Thanks for the very interesting map. Is there any chance you could shrink the size of the 1778 map and post it as one unit? I would like to transfer it to a file where I can zoom and search it. Thanks again.

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 9,083 lostexpectation

    whats that page with the old maps of routes from town to town

  • Registered Users Posts: 58 ✭✭✭ biggles007

    Thanks for the maps

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 16,170 ✭✭✭✭ brianthebard

    Don't post in year old threads, especially for something like that. Mod.

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