Maps for Exploring Ireland

Besides satellite navigation and non-subscription online tools, any photographer who travels and hikes around Ireland will need good maps to hand, both during the planning stage and out in the field. For many years while exploring the countryside and mountains I used the detailed Ordnance Survey 1:50 000 Discovery Series Maps (now 93 in total).

According to Ordnance Survey Ireland:

“Discovery maps are produced at a scale of 1:50,000 (or 2cm on paper equals 1 kilometre on the ground). Each Discovery Sheet covers an area of 40km x 30km surface area (with the exception of several portrait-format sheets, which are 42km x 32km). There are 93 sheets in the series; 75 are produced by Ordnance Survey Ireland, and 18 by Ordnance Survey Northern Ireland. The maps produced by Ordnance Survey Northern Ireland are called the Discoverer Series.

“This is a comprehensive series of feature-rich maps which show detailed landscape information, like rivers, lakes, contours and many townland names. The Discovery Series is designed primarily for tourist and leisure activities; these maps are the preferred choice for hill walkers and those in pursuit of the great outdoors. It is also an ideal reference for location-focussed business use, in pocket-friendly folded form or as a wall-mounted reference.”

Today I can refer to the same information digitally through Mapyx Ltd, a company that produces the MX Map Mobile app (£5) for phones and tablets, and Quo software for computers. I can use this software to sync my map collection with my devices. This is especially useful on a tablet.

Map detail in Quo software.
Buying RoI tiles in Quo. The price here excludes VAT.
Free software from Mapyx.

Prices (2018/19)

On its website Mapyx makes quite a fuss about its mapping software being free. But it makes good business sense to offer free home computer software that directly doubles up as an online store where customers will buy what they’re going to need. It’s an effective and convenient conduit for sales.

How much do you need to spend? Mapyx currently offers the entire Discovery Ireland Series for a penny short of £130. Note that “Ireland” here may be considered a misnomer as it refers to the Republic of Ireland only. Northern Ireland mapping is sold separately at £1.89 per tile. There are 55 Northern Ireland tiles. Note too that the pricing excludes VAT.

Through the Quo software Mapyx sells the individual “tiles” that make up the entire Irish grid, north and south. Each of the 295 tiles covers an area of only “20km x 20km” (12.5 x 12.5 miles), but it’s unlikely that the average user will need even a quarter of those. 

Needs will vary but all being well, based on my old paper map collection, I’ll probably buy around 40 of these tiles. I’m interested in the Mourne Mountains, counties Wicklow and Wexford, and key areas throughout the west of Ireland. At £90 that’s quite an investment.

To supplement my growing collection I use the four free province maps offered by the MAPS.ME app. These detailed maps are excellent for travelling throughout Ireland. I can even see the country tracks and lanes I walk in my local area. Just like Mapyx’s in-depth maps they can be downloaded to your tablet (recommended) or phone and consulted off-line wherever you happen to be. 

Wikiloc’s Great Britain, Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland free maps (downloadable) and online hiking trails are also very useful. “Wikiloc is a place to discover and share the best outdoor trails for hiking, cycling and many other activities. Create your own GPS tracks with your Smartphone and upload directly to Wikiloc in the easiest way possible. Free offline maps for your outdoor adventures; live Tracking.”

It will probably be helpful to use other publications alongside your digital maps, especially if you plan to spend a lot of time in Ireland’s mountain ranges. For example, if like me you hope to be hiking regularly through the Mourne Mountains, you might want to consider buying The Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland Mournes Activity Map (1:25 000 scale) plus a few books. I can recommend The Mourne and Cooley Mountains: A Walking Guide by Adrian Hendroff, and The Mountains of Mourne: A Celebration of a Place Apart by David Kirk.

Mapyx also sells the OS 50K Landranger Tiles (40 x 40 km) at £0.75 + VAT.

Information complied December 2018. Check for current prices.

The MX Map Mobile and MAPS.ME apps.
MX Map Mobile app.
MAPS.ME app.

 

 

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