In the midst of a resurgence of pride in Ireland's history during the 18th century, William Burton, later Conyngham (1733-1796), strove to emulate his British counterparts in producing albums of engravings illustrating the beauties of the country's heritage. To further his aims, he formed the Hibernian Antiquarian Society, which lasted only four years due to internal strife. Nevertheless, Burton Conyngham began acquiring drawings of antiquities, and then commissioned Gabriel Beranger and his fellow artists Angelo Bigari and John James Barralet to make sketches of dolmens, churches, abbeys, and castles in areas which were not represented in existing works.
In its day, Burton Conyngham's was regarded as the most significant collection of such drawings in Ireland. This volume reconstructs that collection, cataloguing more than 600 drawings, which he was known to have secured by about 1780. Also presented in this monograph is the considerable number of copies that were made of the original works as security against damage to the collective whole or the death of its owner.