The Image of Ireland plate 1

The Image of Irelande, with a Discoverie of Woodkarne is a 1581 book by John Derricke, an English follower of Sir Henry Sidney, Elizabeth I's Lord Deputy of Ireland from 1565 to 1571 and 1575 to 1581. It contains a unique visual representation of 16th century Ireland in sequential images.

The book is a strong defence of Sidney's deputyship and his victories over the Irish. It begins with a long poem, giving a genealogical history of the Irish people and the English monarchy, justifying the right of the English to rule Ireland, and describing the conflicts between Sidney's forces and the Irish "woodkarne", landless guerrilla fighters who emerged from their mountain and forest retreats to plunder English settlements.

There follows a sequence of twelve double-page woodcut illustrations, meauring between 313 and 320mm wide and 180mm high, with accompanying verse narration and occasional captions and speech, telling the story of the subjugation of the Irish woodkarne rebels by Sir Henry Sidney, complete with hostile commentary on Irish customs, religious practice and even dress, ending with the submission of Turlough Luineach Ó Neill, king of Tyrone, in 1578. There is only one surviving complete copy, including all twelve woodcuts, which is held in Edinburgh University Library.

The book's dedication to Sidney is signed at Dublin on 16 June 1578, indicating that Derricke completed the composition of the book in Ireland, and was almost certainly an eyewitness to the events he depicts. It is likely he returned to England with Sidney in 1578, and his illustrations were engraved between then and 1581, when the book was published in London by John Day. Two of the plates are signed "ID", thus presumably engraved by Derricke himself, and four by "FD", perhaps a member of his family.

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