LEDWICH, Edward. Antiquities of Ireland. Illustrated with hand-coloured plates [HAND-COLOURED COPY BOUND AT THE CHELSEA BINDERY]


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Dublin: Printed for Arthur Grueber, 1790. First edition. Crown quarto. pp. v, [3], 473, 12 (index, directions for the binder, and errata). Bound at the Chelsea Bindery in full green morocco, spine divided into six panels by five gilt raised bands, title and author in gilt direct in second and third, the remainder framed by a gilt fillet border. In fine condition. Extremely rare hand-coloured copy, in a fine binding.
ESTC T129756. Bradshaw 2447. Gilbert 467.
Rev. Edward Ledwich, a distinguished antiquary and topographer, son of John Ledwich, merchant, was born in Dublin in 1738, and was educated at Trinity College. He became vicar of Aghaboe in Ossory in 1772. Both Charles Vallancey and Ledwich, along with Charles O'Conor of Belanagare and William Burton Conyngham, were founder members of the Hibernian Antiquarian Society, which collapsed in 1783 in the bitter disagreements between Vallancey and Ledwich. He would later act as secretary of the Committee of Antiquities at the Royal Irish Academy. In 1790 Ledwich's The Antiquities of Ireland appeared and was widely read. Those who agreed with his views found it an impressive and even a seminal work, and he has been credited with a pioneering appreciation of the importance to historians of primary sources (though he refused to use Irish-language manuscripts), as well as with a novel critical approach to traditional tales. It is illustrated with numerous engravings depicting castles, abbeys, and round towers, all engraved by J. Ford, which it is now most highly valued. In 1791 Ledwich was asked to complete the work of his friend Francis Grose (1731?–1791), who had died suddenly while visiting Ireland. Ledwich obtained permission to use some of the antiquarian drawings from the collection of Burton Conyngham, which had been produced under the ægis of the Hibernian Antiquarian Society, and the two volumes of Grose’s Antiquities of Ireland, largely written by Ledwich, were published 1791-5.


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