Drawing the Landscape

In the 1850s a group of six men travelled around Kerry mapping the geological landscape in the county. Their work was part of the Geological Survey of Ireland’s ambitious project to produce a geological map of the entire country on a scale of one inch to one mile. The project took forty-two years to complete, starting in County Wexford in 1845 and finishing in County Donegal in 1887.

They used Ordnance Survey maps on the scale of six inches to the mile as a base, with the sheets quartered for ease of handling. Wielding a hammer, the geologist would expose a sliver of rock, examine it through a lens, record in pencil the location on the field map, and make notes and sketches in field notebooks. The information recorded would be inked in during the evening. Later, the data would be compiled and drawn onto a one-inch map.

Their work was primarily focused on rock formations, but, as this exhibition shows, some of the men were also talented artists, including decorative sketches and watercolours along with their notes on the maps.

This exhibition is organized by local geologist Gosia Shaikh-Horajska, founder of Kerry Geo Adventures, in partnership with Kerry County Museum and the Geological Survey of Ireland.


Drawings by George Victor Du Noyer, Frederick James Foot, William Hellier Baily, Joseph O’Kelly, Arthur Beavour Wynne, George Henry Kinahan