First published in 1880 and republished here on fully-searchable CD-ROM is the 7th edition of Ward Lock & Co's Illustrated Guide to Killarney and South-West Ireland dating from 1926-7, the complete title of which is "A Pictorial and Descriptive Guide to Killarney, The Kerry Coast, Glengariff, Cork and the South-West of Ireland.
In 1854, Ebenezer Ward and George Lock starting a publishing concern and the partnership, not surprisingly, was called Ward and Lock. The business was originally based in Fleet Street, London but, by the 1870s, it had outgrown its premises and so in 1878 the business moved to Warwick House in Salisbury Square, London. In the early 1880s, the company became the proprietors of Shaw's widely-known and well-established series of tourist guides. In 1882, an office was opened in New York, America, and in 1884 a further office was opened in Melbourne, Australia. In the mid-1890s, the company opened an office in Toronto, Canada; however, this was closed in 1919. Ward Lock & Co., is now part of the Penguin Group.
In a promotional statement from 1924 Ward Lock stated that 'The use of a reliable guide book doubles the pleasure and interest of a holiday. These well-known books are not dull, dry-as-dust compilations. but pleasant travelling companions, readable from cover to cover. Each volume contains the latest Maps and Plans and is lavishly illustrated. In all cases a much wider area is included than the title indicates, and it will be found that nearly every holiday and health resort of importance is described in one or more of the volumes'. This was no idle boast. By the 1950s Ward & Lock had published some 160 titles in their Illustrated Guides Series covering almost every holiday district and seaside resort of consequence in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Adopting their familiar red cloth covers in 1892, Ward & Lock employed a special staff of qualified editors and correspondents continually toured the land, compiling and revising material on all places and matters of interest to the holidaymaker and on such subjects as the local history, geology, botany and zoology of the areas concerned. The level of detail provided for the independent tourist in the so-called 'Red guides' was unsurpassed.
Containing some 299 printed pages Ward & Lock's Illustrated Guide to Killarney & South-West Ireland contains a number of fold-out district maps, plans of the Killarney and Cork and a further sixty illustrations, mostly photographs of the places illustrated in the guide. Beginning in Cork City, the Illustrated Guide provides descriptions of a series of excursions that the independent tourist could embark on around the city and its immediate environs, before heading to Killarney via Glengariff. From here the Guide provides information and strolling around Killarney Town and then to the Lakes where further tours and possible routes are provided.
Illustrated throughout with wonderful photographs, detailed maps, many hundreds of contemporary advertisements and wonderful descriptions of the places visited, the quality of Ward & Lock's Red Guides has meant that they have endured the test of time and have already become eminently collectible titles.