BUSH, John. Hibernia Curiosa. A Letter from a Gentleman in Dublin, to his friend at Dover in Kent. Giving a General View of the Manners, Customs, Dispositions, &c., of the Inhabitants of Ireland. With occasional Observations on the State of Trade and Agriculture in that Kingdom.


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And including an Account of some of its most remarkable Natural Curiosities, such as Salmon Leaps, Water-falls, Cascades, Glynns, Lakes, &c. With a more particular Description of the Giant’s Causeway in the North; and the celebrated Lake of Killarney in the South of Ireland; taken from an attentive Survey and Examination of the Originals. Collected in a Tour throughout the Kingdom in the Year 1764: And ornamented with Plans of the principal Originals, engraved from Drawings taken on the Spot. With folding plan of Dublin and five other folding plates. London: Printed for W. Flexney, 1769. First edition. Octavo. pp. xvi, 143. Contemporary full calf, title in gilt on original black morocco label on rebacked spine. Signature of Gervase Bushe, Glencairn, on title. Ex lib with neat stamps. A very good copy. Rare.
ESTC T86113. Goldsmiths’-Kress no. 10516.1. Higgs, H. Bibl. of Economics 4589.
The author dedicated this work to Lady Louisa Connolly and signed: J. Bush. Signed on p. 143: J.B. Lucas’s Coffee-house, Dublin, 30th Novemb. 1764.
Joseph Th. Leerssen in ‘Mere Irish & Fior-Ghael’ writes of John Bush of Tunbridge Wells’ ‘Hibernia Curiosa’: “a successful work read as a counter-blow to the denigrator versions of Irish character, and attributing the miserable conditions of the poor Irish not to their own vices but the injustices that left them in direst poverty.” Bush denounces absenteeism, rack rents, middlemen, religious tithes, etc., and identifies with the rural poor “who live in huts ... of such shocking materials and construction that through hundreds of them you may see smoke ascending from every inch of the roof ... and through every inch of which defenceless coverings, the rain, of course, will make its way to drip upon the half naked, shivering, and almost starved inhabitants within”. (p.30; Leerssen, 77.) Further: “... while the priests and subordinate landlords, in ease and affluence, live in haughty contempt of their poverty and oppression, of which the first proprietors are but too seldom, indeed, for the interest of this kingdom, spectators.”
A fascinating account showing Bush’s interest in the economic and social issues of the country, it’s topography and natural history. He offers interesting observations on the disparities of wealth, the excesses of the clergy and gentry, the White-boy insurgents, and other concerns of the time. His preface is a long argument for a fresh, immediate and original approach to travel writing.
Plans and Plates: A New Plan of Dublin; Plan of the Giant’s Causeway; Sketch of the Figures of the Columns as they appear on the top of the Causeway; A Plan of the Town and Water-Fall of Leixslip; and A Plan of the Lake of Kilarny in the County of Kerry.
Provenance: From the library of Gervase Bushe with his signature on title. Colonel John Bushe, originally from Somerset, was granted lands at Kilfane in county Kilkenny following the Cromwellian settlement. His descendent, Henry Amyas Bushe, inherited the Glencairn estate in the Blackwater Valley, through his marriage with Lavinia Gumbleton. Their son Gervase (or Jervis) Bushe was the owner of over 600 acres at Glencairn as well as over 1700 acres at Kilfane in the 1870s.

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