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TOPOGRAPHICAL ACCOUNT OF THE PRO-
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The Purchasers of the BEAUTIES OF IRELAND are respectfully informed,
TO THE FIRST VOLUME OF THE BEAUTIES OF IRELAND
Whilst submitting to the public the following sketches towards a history and description of the principal objects of topography in Ireland, I feel encouraged to hope for the indulgence of the reader, from a conviction that I have used, with a zeal of attachment to my subject, every method in my power to obtain original and correct information. But, when we duly remember the injurious neglect which such investigations experienced in Ireland, at periods most favourable to inquiry, it will be readily believed that with this hope is blended a very painful degree of apprehension.
This island had no Leland or Camden to snatch from oblivion the architectural character, and the history of ecclesiastical and castellated buildings, in the 16th century, when the fabrics and records of religious institutions afforded subjects of satisfactory research; and when the harsh abodes of our feudal ancestry were only recently abandoned, with the steel encasements of those warriors, and
many customs of chivalry and license, offensive to the judgment, bụt still imperative over the fancy,
Ware, and his continuator Harris, have been said in some measure to supply this deficiency; and their labours, particularly in regard to episcopal history, are established on a firm basis of reputation. But the attention of those learned writers was not directed to topography; and their disquisitions, although assistant in parts, by no means afford a general ground-work of local history.
The Monasticon of Mr. Archdall is an unhappy instance of national indifference to such works, when placed by the side of Dugdale's volumes in the sister island.
In more recent times, since copiousness and accuracy of topographical illustration have been viewed as rational sources of information and amusement, in most parts of the British empire, England has produced histories and extensive descriptions, not only of her principal towns, but even of rural parishes, and villages of no important name. Among the literary labours of the same modern times, Ireland numbers only about one dozen volumes, relating to about half as many counties.
But the age of indifference to works of this description, would appear to be hastening towards its close. The authors of Hibernia Antiqua et Hodierna, and the histories of Galway and Armagh, have produced books calculated to obtain national attention; and it may be confidently hoped that public approbation will encourage the prosecution of similar labours, among many native writers.
The favourable reception of the work termed the “ BEAUTIES of ENGLAND and WALES,” consisting of “Original Delineations, Topographical, Historical, and Descriptive,” induced the design of a similar publication in regard to IRELAND. My attachment to the country an admiration of its scenery-an ardent curiosity concerning its antient vestiges--and a warm respect for many
of its inhabitants, inspirited me to undertake this task; and should deficiencies be ascertained, I trust that I may be allowed to plead these motives in mitigation of critical censure. The favour I solicit at the hands of
may hope to receive from the whole of my readers. The nature of the work is so entirely remote from subjects of party feeling, or at least is so when conducted with an honest
intention, that it must be almost superfluous to say I am of no party whatever, as writer of this book. Facts, and not comments, are the chief objects of the topographer's attention.
The most pleasing part of my duty, in these prefatory pages, consists in acknowledgments of those who have favoured me with local information, or have otherwise taken an interest in the procedure of the work.
By many of the nobility of Ireland I was honoured, during the tours and inquiries incidental to this undertaking, with marks of polite attention, entitled to my lasting gratitude. In very few instances was an application, whether made personally or by letter, treated with indifference. I cannot avoid taking the freedom of observing, that the Right Honourable the EARL TALBOT, whilst LORD LIEUTENANT, &c. &c. of Ireland, honoured this work with fostering and very benignant regard.
I must also beg permission to name, and thus publicly to return thanks for, a courteous attention bestowed on the object of my pursuit by his GRACE THE DUKE OF LEINSTER.
VISCOUNT LORTON was pleased to show his desire of encouraging a work, descriptive of the country in which (happily for his tenants and neighbours) he resides, by ordering me to be furnished with a series of drawings, executed by the very able artist Mr. PEACOCK, representing the principal objects in the vicinity of his lordship’s fine demesne.
To LORD HAWARDEN, and to LORD and LADY CLONCURRY I am under particular obligations, for a hospitable reception at their noble dwellings, and for flattering marks of kindness which are deeply impressed on my recollection.
It is here necessary to state, in the most explicit manner, the extent of iny obligations to COLONEL HERVEY DE
MONTMORENCY, K. St. L. author of a learned and curious “ Inquiry into the Origin and Primitive Use of the Irish Pillar-Tower.” This gentleman has unfolded, for the use of the present work, his extensive topographical collections in regard to many of the most interesting counties of Ireland, comprising circumstances of local and genealogical bistory, the results of laborious research and an intimate knowledge of the country. Although I have rarely adopted his language, or profited by any descriptive parts of his collections, I feel it to be equally a duty and a pleasure to observe that I am indebted to this accomplished topographical collector, for a very large share of the intelligence conveyed, in regard to the local and genealogical history of the following districts :
Dublin (county of, distinct from the city).
Westmeath. To WILLIAM SHAW MASON, Esq. whose “ Parochial Survey of Ireland" is read far beyond the limits of the island to which it immediately relates, I am highly indebted for the warm and liberal feeling with which he imparted numerous facilities to the prosecution of a work, which he was pleased to deem likely, from its design, to advance, in however humble a degree, the interests of his country.
Sir WILLIAM BETAAM, Ulster King of Arms, is entitled to my best thanks for the personal ardour with which he has forwarded my wishes, and for the distinguished