Rare Lafreri School map of Ireland
By LAFRERI, Antonio , 1602

Hybernia Nunc Irlant.

British Isles Ireland
  • Author: LAFRERI, Antonio
  • Publication place: Rome
  • Publisher: Ioanes Orlandi
  • Publication date: 1602.
  • Physical description: Engraved map, right hand margin restored not affecting image.
  • Dimensions: 255 by 340mm (10 by 13.5 inches).
  • Inventory reference: 12634


A rare early map of Ireland published by the Lafreri School.

The island’s shape is remarkably accurate compared to contemporary maps. The territory is scattered with mountains, forests, lakes and rivers, as well as major towns, and includes names of the provinces. A vessel navigates the North Atlantic Ocean and two sea monsters seize the seas. The Connaught bulge is more in evidence in this map that it was to be for another 100 years.

A curious detail is ‘Purgesoriu S. Patricij’, or St Patrick’s Purgatory, in a lake in the island’s north. According to legend, the site dates from the fifth century, when God showed Saint Patrick a cave on Station Island, on Lough Derg, that was an entrance to Purgatory. The site was mentioned in texts as early as 1185 and became an important pilgrimage site in Medieval times. It appeared on maps as early as the fifteenth century and it was the only Irish site noted on Martin Behaim’s famous globe of 1482.

The geography of the map follows Bolognino Zaltieri’s 1565 map of Ireland. The author of the map was most likely Antonio Lafreri, the leading map publisher of the time. Born France in 1512, he settled in Rome in 1540 and soon opened an engraving and print selling business, which became the largest and most prolific one in Rome.

The activity of Claudio Duchetti, Antonio Lafreri’s nephew, flourished from about 1570 to about 1585. Among his earliest maps were a series of maps of the Mediterranean islands, including Minorca, Majorca and Cyprus. His stock, which included plates published by Lafreri, passed to Giovanni Orlandi who reprinted many of them dated 1602.

Rare. The map rarely appears on the market.


  1. Bifolco 278, state 3
  2. Bonar Law P 10iii
  3. Tooley, Maps in Italian Atlases, 319.