Beggars Bush: A Perambulation through the Disciplines of History, Geography, Archaeology, Literature, Philology, Natural History, Botany, Biography & Beggary

Dublin, Donnybrook – False Trails Prints

There are four early prints purporting to show Beggars Bush at Donnybrook. It is difficult to identify these with any recorded features or with each other. It seems that the two later prints take liberties with the features to present an artistic scene.The first two are watercolours attributed to Francis Danby and dated to before 1713. They show Mill near Beggar’s Bush and Ringsend from Beggar’s Bush. The first show two waterwheels and substantial building. The second is a wide landscape of open slob land with a range of buildings, several industrial, in the distance and the masts of ships on the left behind a large building. To the right of the middle foreground are two men who are standing outside a doorway in a brick wall, which may be the entrance to a furnace.

The third, usually described as A view from Beggar’s Bush (the View) is dated 1744 by Dublin Libraries  Local Studies Collection and the image is marked “from an engraving by William Jones” (reproduced from the frontispiece from F. Elrington Ball, History of the County of Dublin, Dublin, 1903). The same print is reproduced by CRDS more vaguely dated “eighteenth century” and attributed to Giles King. It shows the view towards Ringsend before the draining of the area. Substantial artistic licence has been taken with the vertical scale and the perspective. It is impossible to relate the foreground and middle ground features to Rocque’s Survey of 1756. They show in the foreground a plateau of land which appears to be uncultivated, with clumps of bushes. There are three figures shown, which are described in most instances as “beggars” or “highwaymen”, though from the poor reproductions I have seen appear to be characteristic pastoral figures. In the middle ground the print shows two fairly substantial houses on flat ground below, to the north.

A fourth print is simply called Beggars Bush dated 1802 in the Patrick Healy Collection. (CRDS says c.1801 and says that it is Plate 15 facing p.46 in Ball). This shows an area of flat ground with trees and bushes, with a  small bridge across a stream, next to which is a thatched cottage. In the background are two substantial buildings that may be the same as those on the View, if this later print is a reverse view. The stream seems too small and natural to be the canalised Dodder – it may be the lower end of Swan Water which ran to Watery Lane south west of Beggars Bush or one of the other streams shown in the reclaimed land on Taylor’s 1816 map. However, again it is impossible to reconcile the scene in the print with the features on Taylor’s map. It is possible the print shows the scene before the reclamation by Vavasour.


Martyn Anglesea, Five Unpublished Drawings by Francis Danby, The Burlington Magazine, Vol. 117, No. 862 (Jan., 1975), pp. 47-50

Posted: May 30th, 2011 | Filed under: Places, Speculations | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

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