John Kirkwood

Died 1853
Place of Death Edinburgh
Gender Male
Biographical Notes John Kirkwood (? – 1852), artist and engraver, specialized in etching. George Strickland provides a comprehensive biographical notice in A Dictionary of Irish Artists. John Kirkwood, he notes, was a son of ‘James Kirkwood, one of a family of engravers in Edinburgh. The great fire in Edinburgh on 15th November, 1824, originated in the house in Old Assembly Close occupied by the Kirkwoods, from a pot of linseed oil, preparing for making copper-plate printing ink, taking fire. James and his son John, who had served his apprenticeship to Charles Heath the engraver, came to Dublin about 1826, and as James Kirkwood and son established themselves at No. 17 Grafton Street as engravers and copper-plate printers. In an advertisement issued by them they refer to their "long experience as engravers to most of the bankers in Scotland and a great number in England." In 1828 they moved to 21 Bachelor's Walk, and next year to Lower Ormonde Quay. In 1830 they were at 11 Crow Street, and from 1834 the business was carried on by John Kirkwood only, who from 1844 was at No. 3 Cecilia Street’. Strickland further notes that Kirkwood exhibited at the Royal Hibernian Academy in 1827 and 1828, and for many years ‘occupied the foremost place as an engraver in Dublin, and was much employed on book illustrations’. Strickland lists Kirkwood’s etched portraits of contemporary Irish figures, most of which were published in the Dublin University Magazine. A large collection of these may now be viewed on the National Library of Ireland website at
Several of Kirkwood’s productions are related to travel literature in its broader sense: he drew and engraved the maps in The County Atlas of Ireland, and he published the ‘Dublin and Kingstown Railway Companion, with Views’ (?1834), a relatively early example of the promotion of the pleasures of rail travel, in which he provided travellers with a map and ten small but evocative views of the sights to be enjoyed on such a trip. He contributed etchings to works by William Carleton, among them Characteristic sketches of Ireland and the Irish (1840). In 1845 Kirkwood retired and returned to Edinburgh. His Dublin business was continued by his son George.


William Carleton et al., Characteristic sketches of Ireland and the Irish (Dublin : Hardy & Walker, 1840).

John Kirkwood, Kirkwood’s Dublin and Kingstown Railway Companion, on National Library of Ireland website, at Accessed 22.1.2018.

John Kirkwood, The County Atlas of Ireland, drawn and engraved by John Kirkwood, with descriptive letterpress (Dublin: James McGlashan, 1834).

National Library of Ireland, at Accessed 18.1.2018.
Walter George Strickland, A Dictionary of Irish Artists (Dublin: Maunsel, 1913).



Lough Dan, Co. of Wicklow (Draughtsman, Engraver)