FERRAR, John. The History of Limerick, Ecclesiastical, Civil and Military, From the Earliest Records, to the Year 1787. Illustrated by fifteen engravings. To which are added The Charter of Limerick, and An Essay on Castle Connell Spa, on water in general and cold bathing. Illustrated and folding map. List of subscribers.
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Limerick: A. Watson, 1787. Medium octavo. First edition. pp. xviii, 492. Dated at end of preface: Sir Harry’s Mall, Limerick, December 25, 1786. Contemporary full tree calf. Spine professionally rebacked, title in gilt on new red morocco label. A very good copy. Rare.
COPAC locates 6 copies only. ESTCT77045.
Captain William Ferrar came to Ireland in the army of King William, and settled in Limerick after the siege, he married Marie, the daughter of Richard Lloyd, of Drumsallagh, in that county. William Ferrar, a son of this marriage, took to the family trade of bookselling and bookbinding, and his son John was Limerick’s most famous printer and first historian. John Ferrar started the Limerick Chronicle, which he owned, edited and printed from 1768 till 1781, when it was taken over by Andrew Watson, who married his daughter. He was author of the History of Limerick, which appeared in two editions in1767, and in a much enlarged edition in 1787. Strange to relate, Ferrar himself printed none of these editions. He was also the compiler of the first provincial Directory to appear in Ireland. This was published in 1769 by himself, The Limerick Directory.
When Ferrar retired from the printing business he lived as an insurance agent on Sir Harry’s Mall for a short while, but soon after removed to Dublin. He was a historian by birth and, although living in retirement in Dublin, he published while here A View of Ancient and Modern Dublin, as
well as the description of A Tour of London. When only twenty-two, hewrote the usual volume of poems, and although these are by no means works of great genius, it can be truthfully said that they avoided most of the coarseness of their times. His history is an excellent one, well arranged, moderately well indexed, and with plenty of original material. Nothing is known of the date or place of Ferrar’s death, or of the whereabouts of his burial; and the only record we have of his appearance is in the Reminiscences of John O’Keeffe, the Irish actor and dramatist: - “I knew Mr. Ferrar of Limerick, a printer, bookseller and author; he wrote an excellent history of Limerick, which, a few years ago, I heard read with pleasure. His little shop was at the corner of Quay Lane. Ferrar was very deaf, yet had a cheerful animated countenance; thin; and of the middle size.” A catalogue of Ferrar’s book-selling wares in 1774 lists 214 plays for sale at 6|d. each. One would search many provincial cities to-day before finding such a selection to choose from. Included in the long list of subscribers are: Lady de Bourgho, Sir Richard de Bourgho, Thomas Bonfield of Bordeaux, Lord Carbery, Richard Crosbie, Augustine Fitz Gerald of Tureen, Garret Fitz Gerald of Shannongrove, Lord Cloncurry; John Exshaw; Lord Kenmare; Rev. Edward Ledwich; The Earl and Countess of Moira; Lady Muskerry, Sir Hugh Dillon Massy, Richard Maunsell, Windham Quin of Adare, Philip Stacpoole, Dr. Troy; Charles Vereker, Boyle Vandeleur, J.T. Westropp, Newport White of Kilmoylan, J.C. Walker, MRIA, etc.
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