Colonel Edward Cooper

The Cooper family was established in Markree in 1669 by Edward Cooper, a soldier who had been allotted or bought from other soldiers, lands in Kerry, Limerick and Sligo; the Sligo lands growing into the Markree Estate. Colonel Cooper's uncle, Edward Joshua Cooper, opposed the Act of Union in 1800 and thereby forfeited the chance of being awarded a title. Undaunted, he represented Sligo in Westminster, travelled extensively in the Middle East and Africa and built a famous observatory in Markree. On his death in 1863 the estate passed to his nephew Edward Henry.

Edward Henry Cooper was born in 1827, educated in Eton and served in the Grenadier Guards, rising to the rank of Lieut. Colonel. He was elected to represent Sligo at Westminster in 1865 and to the office of Lord-Lieutenant of County Sligo in 1877. In the 1870s, aware that the number of antiquities extant in the county was dwindling through neglect, agricultural development and deliberate destruction for stone to use in wall building, he commissioned W. F. Wakeman to produce a series of drawings.

This commission resulted in two volumes "Drawings of the Antiquities of County Sligo", consisting of 140 sheets, which was produced between 1876 and 1882 and "Drawings from the Island of Inishmurray" produced between 1879 and 1881, consisting of 80 sheets. These two volumes were published as bound folio editions in 1893.

Colonel Cooper died in 1902 and the two volumes of drawings remained in Markree Castle library until the late 1950s when his grandson, Lieut-Commander Edward Francis Cooper, donated them to Sligo County Library.

In this project we celebrate his magnanimity.

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