Journal Volume 3 2000

Greystones in Cartographic Sources: the Wicklow county Maps

By Pat Power

Before the Petty Survey of 1655 local maps presented the Greystones and Delgany areas in little or no detail. Early maps depicting the area now covered by County Wicklow were almost always part of a larger scheme, dwelling on such political features as the lands controlled by the O'Byrnes, O'Tooles, the House of Ormond or the Earldom of Kildare, (where it intruded into Wicklow). These early efforts occasionally depicted a strategic feature like the 'New Castell' or the 'Old Court'. Offshore obstacles might also be noted like sand shoals and hazardous rocks. References to prominent topographical features that one might expect to see like the Wicklow Mountains, the Sugarloaf or Bray Head are surprisingly scarce. When such features were taken note of, they were usually indicated by a few crudely drawn rounded humps and perhaps a pithy comment like ‘bogge’ or 'uninhabited'. This was not the case in estate maps, however, and local topographical features appear in some detail, even in the earliest land maps drawn up in the late 17th century. I hope to deal with this aspect in Greystones map history in a future article.

Down Survey

Sir William Petty ( famous "Down Survey" overseen by Sir William Petty has had an unfortunate history. All the detailed, and thus important, County Wicklow parish maps and their explanatory 'terriers' (accompanying notes), have long been destroyed, where the Wicklow sections of the Down Survey are concerned. Baronial maps for the county did survive, however, and though the indicated features are limited, there are some useful sources as to the evolution of Greystones and Delgany. The area is covered by two baronial maps, that of Rathdown and Newcastle.

On the former map, Killruddery House is shown as well as the ruined castle of Bray. No other habitations are shown in Bray, unlike Wicklow town, which has its Black Castle, depicted, surrounded by several little houses. Roads were not shown on the Petty maps, unfortunately. Surprisingly, the dominant feature of Bray Head made no impression on the surveyor and is not shown.

The map of Newcastle Barony depicts "Delaney Parish" (Delgany) in a slightly inland situation. There is no mention of "the Grey stones". The northern section of Delgany is described as 'unprofitable' while the rest of that section is marked as 'wood'. This land would be the southern slope of Bray Head around Windgates. The woodland must have been extensive to attract the attention of the surveyors so as to give it a special mention. The only place name recorded on the map within Delgany parish is Druminstown. Where modern Greystones is sited shows no detail whatsoever, Ballynoran, Ballyganan and Ballydoonarea are shown extending along the coast stretching southward. Lands around Delgany parish are described as 'unforfeited'. This shows there was little change in ownership for large tracts of land in this part of Wicklow, arising out of the Cromwellian wars.

Old Wicklow Baronies Map (

 While the Down Survey lacks visual detail, the inference can be drawn that the general population of landowners remained in conformity throughout the wars of the Confederation of Kilkenny and Cromwell's conquest.


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