A Modern Depiction of Ireland, One of the British Isles


Abraham Ortelius (1527-98) was a Flemish engraver and businessman who traveled widely to pursue his commercial interests. In 1560 he became interested in scientific geography during a voyage with Gerardus Mercator. Ortelius’s major work, Theatrum orbis terrarum (Theater of the world), was published in Antwerp in 1570, at the threshold of the golden age of Dutch cartography. Theatrum presented the world in its component parts and reflected an age of exploration, broadened commercial connections, and scientific inquiry. Now considered the world’s first atlas, the original Theatrum was enhanced by frequent updates and reprintings to incorporate the latest scientific and geographical information. Ortelius’s map of Ireland shown here exemplifies the most modern mapmaking techniques of the period: precise geographic detail, beautifully rendered topographical symbols, and an abundance of place names. Significant landholdings are represented by renderings of estate buildings.

Date Created

Subject Date


Title in Original Language

Hiberniae, Britannicae Insulae, Nova Descripto


Type of Item

Physical Description

1 engraved map ; 34 x 47 centimeters


  • Scale approximately 1:1,000,000

Last updated: March 4, 2016