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Dublin 1847: City Of The Ordnance Survey Launched

26 August 2015

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Frank Cullen captures Dublin city in 1847 through the Ordnance Survey.

Dublin 1847: city of the Ordnance Survey by Frank Cullen is an ancillary publication to IHTA no. 26, Dublin, part III, 1756 to 1847 by Rob Goodbody (published in November 2014). It contains forty-five extracts from the large-scale (1:1056) Ordnance Survey town plan of Dublin (1847) with accompanying commentaries and essay.

The Victorian equivalent of Google street view, the large-scale Ordnance Survey town plan of Dublin city (1847) captures every house, garden, yard and pump in the capital. Trees, vegetation and building interiors are all depicted in addition to the sewers and water mains beneath the city streets.

In the book author Dr Frank Cullen presents forty-five extracts from the large scale (1:1056) map of the city, each extract accompanied by a detailed commentary. Sites such as King’s Bridge Railway Station (Heuston Station), Sackville Street (O’Connell Street) and Trinity College Dublin, are portrayed alongside distinctive areas such as the Liberties, St Mark’s Maritime Quarter and the Grand Canal Harbour.

This book depicts the multi-faceted nature of the mid-nineteenth century Dublin City. For example:

  • Did you know that in 1847 Ireland was the best mapped country in the world?
  • Long-forgotten street names such as Cut Throat Lane and Murdering Lane reflected the depravity of the district surrounding the South Dublin Union Workhouse (present day St James’s Hospital).
  • Whiskey (Roe family) and Guinness rescued Christchurch and St Patrick’s Cathedral, which, considering the association between the temperance movement and the church in nineteenth- century Dublin, is more than a little ironic.
  • A re-enactment of the destruction of the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius took place weekly during the summer of 1840 at Portobello Gardens. This was preceded by instrumental concerts and the appearance of a lion tamer with his caged beasts.

Author Frank Cullen is born and bred in Dublin. He completed his PHD (Maynooth University, 2005) with a comparative study of nineteenth-century Dublin and Belfast. He currently works on the Irish Historic Towns Atlas project in the Royal Irish Academy.

Speaking ahead of the launch Dr Cullen says: ‘Prominent on the splendid 1847 town plan of Dublin City are the fine residential districts of the Fitzwilliam and Gardiner estates in the eastern city, laid out around elegant garden squares and home to the new aristocracy of the nineteenth century, the medical and legal professions; while equally prominent, yet in stark contrast, are the fever hospitals, prisons, barracks, workhouses and asylums that testify to the very real social problems of nineteenth-century Dublin: poverty, unemployment, disease and crime. And all mapped during a period of great topographical change when the new railway technology was stamping its indelible mark on the city template, while land reclamation projects in the port advanced the city ever further eastwards into the Bay of Dublin.’

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