Cat No.: IET0075:
Charles Smith M.D. (1715-1762) was one of Ireland's earliest topographers and county historians as well as being a physician. Having worked on his histories of Down (1744), Waterford (1746) "The Ancient and Present State of the County and City of Cork" was first published in 1750. This was followed by a history of County Kerry published in 1756. The edition in this publication is the second edition published in 1774. Spread over two volumes and nine hundred pages The Ancient and Present State of the County and City of Cork is a comprehensive study of the "natural, civil, ecclesiastical, historical, and topographical" status of Cork county and city.
Dedicated to Henry Boyle, one of the Lord Chief Justices' and later Earl of Shannon, Smith intended the work to promote improvement in the county itself. Each volume is divided into two books. Book one covers the ancient names of the territories and the inhabitants, as well as dealing with the ecclesiastical state of the county and the geographical layout. Book two covers the general topography of the county and then deals with baronies themselves in greater detail. Greater attention is paid to Mallow and of course the city of Cork itself. The book, and the first volume, closes with the present state of the city touching on such areas as churches, hospitals, franchises and privileges, militia and finishes with a list of magistrates of the city from 1199 to 1773.
Book three deals with the civil history of the county. Beginning with some incidents that were recorded before the arrival of the English, continuing with the arrival of the English up to the death of Henry VIII, the reign of Queen Elizabeth and the rebellions of the Earl of Desmond, the reign of James I and Charles I, the 1641 Rebellion, the restoration of Charles II and finishing with his death and an account to the time of writing. Book four, the final part, covers areas of the natural history of County Cork. This includes such diverse topics as the rise and progress of the rivers in the county, the medicinal waters of the county, fish and fisheries, rare and unusual plants, a catalogue of birds, fossil's found, phenomena observed in the air, ancient monuments, and some brief notes on "remarkable persons" who lived in the county, such as Mary Barry, a poor woman who was in 1750 approximately 106 years old!
For anyone with an interest in the County Cork, the two volumes of The Ancient and Present State of the County and City of Cork are a must have. This is a fantastic source spanning from some of the earliest days of the county right up to the mid eighteenth century.
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