Tim Robinson, cartographer and chronicler of the Irish regions of the Aran Islands, the Burren and Connemara, died of complications from COVID-19 on 3 April 2020; he was 85. “Generations of tourists have been guided and enthralled by his marvellous maps of these radiant places,” writes Fintan O’Toole in the Irish Times. “But it is his astonishing books, the two-volume Stones of Aran and the Connemara trilogy, that will stand as timeless monuments to a genius who combined the linguistic brilliance of a poet with the precision of the mathematician he once was.” Also in the Irish Times, Paul Clements looks at Robinson’s idiosyncratic cartography: “For Robinson everything was mappable, and for good measure, he added a few puzzles, doodles and whimsies.”
Rail Map Online has been around since 2013 or so, but it only came to my attention recently. It’s an interactive map of every rail line and station that has ever existed in Great Britain and Ireland, with U.S. rail lines in the pipeline. Keep in mind that it’s a hobby project: “The U.K. map is mostly finished, although there’s always room for improvement. The U.S. map is a work in progress, and will take many years to complete.” [Tim Dunn]
Even an overwhelming vote margin can be interesting to map, but I’m a bit disappointed with the maps of the Irish referendum held last Friday on whether to repeal Ireland’s constitutional ban on abortion. The official Referendum Ireland website, the Irish Times and RTÉ News all use two-colour constituency map (one colour for yes, another for no); the Irish Times goes a little further and shows choropleth maps for the yes and no sides, but quartiles don’t reveal very much either. The Guardian and even Wikipedia show more granularity. [Maps Mania]
Update: Lots and lots of choropleth maps on the Irish Political Maps Twitter account.
The Atlas of the Irish Revolution came out earlier this month from Cork University Press in Europe and New York University Press in North America. From the latter publisher: “Published to coincide with the centenary of the Easter Rising, this comprehensive and visually compelling volume brings together all of the current research on the revolutionary period, with contributions from leading scholars from around the world and from many disciplines.” The Irish Times’s coverage of the book’s launch focuses on the sheer size of the book: nearly 1,000 pages, more than 300 maps and 700 images—and weighing just over 5 kg. Amazon [WMS]
Related: Map Books of 2017.
Cóilín Parsons is the author of The Ordnance Survey and Modern Irish Literature (Oxford University Press, June 2016; Amazon, iBooks), which links the Ordnance Survey of Ireland to the origins of literary modernism in Ireland. Writing in The Irish Times, Parsons makes a larger argument about the cultural impact of the Irish survey, which resulted in large part from the survey’s precise mapping requirements and the need to hire non-cartographic scholars to get the job done—they were mapping aspects of Irish life that had not previously received official attention.
This unlikely assembly came about because the survey was instructed to make a map at a scale of six inches to one mile. The scale might seem unexceptional to anyone who grew up using the survey’s maps, but at the time it was nothing short of revolutionary—it called for enormous maps of frequently sparsely inhabited areas, and at a level of detail never before seen across such a vast expanse of land. How was the survey to gather the information to fill in such detailed maps? The answer was to task not only the engineers of the army, but also a crew of civilian workers under Petrie’s supervision, to both map the physical features of the landscape and also record every possible aspect of the landscape from its placenames (the initial justification for employing Irish language scholars) and archeology to its productive economy.
Rail Map Online is a web-based map showing every rail line that ever existed in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Base layers can be toggled between Google Maps, satellite, OpenStreetMap and old Ordnance Survey maps. It doesn’t distinguish between existing and removed rail lines, though that appears to be coming; it’s a work in progress. [Tim Dunn]
Previously: British Railways, Past and Present.
The European Space Agency has released this false-colour composite image of Ireland based on 16 radar scans by the Sentinel-1A satellite in May 2015. The colours show change over the 12 days of coverage: “The blues across the entire image represent strong changes in bodies of water or agricultural activities such as ploughing. […] Vegetated fields and forests appear in green. The reds and oranges represent unchanging features such as bare soil or possibly rocks that border the forests, as is clear on the left side of the image, along the tips of the island.” [ESA]
Another data point for our consideration of what people think a fantasy map looks like, from the author of the Maptitude tumblelog: a fantasy map of Ireland, replete with, as you would expect, forests and hills. It departs from the fantasy map paradigm by using colour: red for political boundaries, blue for water. It also uses a vaguely uncial script: something we’ve seen in the movie versions of The Lord of the Rings, but less often in fantasy book maps. Not inappropriate for Ireland, though.