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This exhibition showcases Ulster Museum's fabulous collection of early maps and original works by some of the world’s greatest mapmakers and surveyors.

Drawing on Ulster Museum’s rich collection of historic maps, the exhibition explores how the shape and definition of Ireland has been refined and represented over the centuries. It includes representations of Ireland by two of the 16th century’s greatest map makers, Abraham Ortelius, who produced what was essentially the world’s first published atlas in 1573, and Gerard Mercator, who first used the term to describe a collection of maps in 1595.

Six examples of the work of the English mapmaker John Speed are on display – his famous group of Irish maps, first published between 1610 and 1611, and his map of the invasions of Britain and Ireland, first published in 1627. There are also fine examples of early seacharts from English, Dutch and local sources, maps referring to the capture of Carrickfergus by the French privateer Captain Francois Thurot in 1759, and a huge County map of Tyrone printed in four sections in 1821.

The exhibition closes with two very different anthropomorphic maps of Ireland, drawn by Lilian Lancaster in the mid-19th century.

Books & manuscriptsBelfast

Ulster Museum

Botanic Gardens, Belfast, County Antrim, BT9 5AB

028 9044 0000


Opening times

Tues – Sun,10am – 5pm Closed Mondays (except NI Bank Holidays)

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