b-unicycling's Diary

Recent diary entries

AED Survey

Posted by b-unicycling on 1 December 2022 in English (English).

Motivated by OpenStreetMap Poland’s, I went on a targeted survey of AEDs in Kilkenny. I had added some before, and I always do, when I see one, but this time I put some extra effort in, knocked on doors etc.

According to overpass, I’ve edited 141 AEDs, but some are in areas I’ve never been to, so I don’t know how that happened. Unless I used mapillary…Impossible to remember.

Kilkenny is a small Irish town with a lot of tourism. (They want it to be called a “city”, because they got that status in 1609, but the numbers are telling a different story.) I started off using on my phone, but then I learned about the Quick Actions on OSMAnd, made myself one for AEDs and used it from then on.

Over the course of two days (3-5 hours in total maybe), I went into most

  • hotels (50-50 chance)
  • supermarkets (SuperValu and Dunnes good coverage, Lidl not)
  • shopping centres (100% with 3 surveyed)
  • banks (bad coverage with 2 surveyed, AIB and Permanent TSB)
  • some doctors’ offices,
  • churches,
  • public offices (good coverage)
  • major tourist attractions (coverage depends on size and operator)
  • social facilities (good coverage)

in an about 1km radius etc. Not only was I able to add about 23 unmapped AEDs, but I also raised awareness about the bad coverage after 6pm, because many businesses close then, and none of the AEDs surveyed during these days are outdoors and publicly accessible. Some people also weren’t aware about the closest AED to them or had outdated information.

When I got into longer chats with people, I also got a chance to mention, and stickers or cards would have come in handy, but they might find it anyway.

AEDs in Kilkenny I suppose, the most surprising places that didn’t have one were the GPO and the Garda (police) station. Well, they said they didn’t have one… I was actually surprised how many there were on High Street and Parliament Street, though.

All in all, I think that is a great tool for mapping, but also to be able to show people where the nearest AEDs are.

Location: Gardens, Kilkenny No.2 Urban, Kilkenny, County Kilkenny, Leinster, Ireland

After having had my finds reported on in their online newspaper last week, the Kilkenny People today had a half-page article reporting about my discovery of three crannógs in Co. Cavan. newspaper article

This time, the journalist did a bit of extra research. Last time, when I discovered the two enclosures (as mentioned in this article), they used my press release almost verbatim. It must be newsworthy, if they put extra effort in. I wouldn’t know, I’m biased. :P

I sent them the press release about two weeks ago mentioning OSM as often as possible, because there is still a lot of ignorance in the general public about it. So, I will definitely keep on reaching out to the press every time I discover something, just to hammer the message in about OpenStreetMap.

(I don’t own an armchair, btw. The term just means that I wasn’t out in the field digging and instead worked from my desk. Some say it could be understood pejoratively, but that’s not what I meant by using it. They are also not likely 6000 years old, but we won’t know until dendrochronology is done on the site.)

Location: Parisee, Castlesaunderson ED, Cavan-Belturbet Municipal District, County Cavan, Ireland

video series about crannógs

Posted by b-unicycling on 21 November 2022 in English (English). Last updated on 3 December 2022.

I’m still “obsessing” about crannógs. There are now 205 mapped in Ireland and the UK with site_type=crannog. The timing is unfortunate with the proposal about changing site_type=crannog to archaeological_site pending, but I have been delayed for so long; I did not want to wait any longer. I’m adding disclaimers to every video to keep watching out for tag changes…

Five parts of a mini series about crannógs are planned, two of them have been published on my channel already, one will go public next Saturday.

I have created a page on the wiki mentioning some of the sources for finding crannógs, and I’m basically covering all the options in these videos.

I’m hoping to gather some interest from historians and archaeologists in OpenStreetMap with this. Long shot…

As some will know by now, crannogs are my “thing” at the moment. I was hoping to produce a couple of videos about them on my channel, but it takes a bit longer to get the tag approved than expected. And I can’t tell people how to map crannogs when there is no standard.

But I digress…

While mapping buildings in Co. Cavan in Ireland, I had discovered 12 suspiciously circular features in the lakes within the last 3 weeks, and I had reported them to the National Monuments Service this week. They got back to me yesterday and confirmed 3 as actual crannogs (the rest were apparently just naturally occurring circular vegetation).

If you want to check them out, Bing or Esri Clarity imagery are best.

There are a couple more to report, but I’d rather do it in bulk than send an email every 3 days or so.

I made a quick video about it:

history is a hot mess

Posted by b-unicycling on 17 October 2022 in English (English).

Still influenced by my proposal for settlement_type=crannog, I’ve looked at how historic settlements are mapped on OSM. There are three more or less “right” ways to do it (and so many wrong ones…). The three options are * map as historic= [whatever type of settlement] * map as historic=archaeological_site + site_type= [whatever type of settlement] * map as historic=archaeological_site + site_type=settlement + settlement_type= [whatever type of settlement]

The distribution today1 was (in reversed order from above, sorry):

settlement type/ form settlement_type=* site_type=* historic=*
ringfort 131 2 0
crannog 82 0 2
hut_circle 24 348 1
oppidum 8 15 3
city 6 612 16+(messy mapping) 2
village 3 11 58+ (messy mapping3)
town 2 0 12 (+ 3 “ghost_town”)
longphort 1 0 0
rundling 1 0 0
hut_site 1 0 0
hut 0 0 12
vicus 0 24 0
shieling 0 0 20 371
settlement n/a 3 788 ~25

In my opinion, historic= [whatever type of settlement] should only be used when the remains are still recognizable as buildings, like a ghost town or some sort of preserved settlement used as a museum (or “visitor experience”, as they’re now known), like some of the Pioneer towns in America.

Everything else I would classify as an historic=archaeological_site, and I personally would like to be able to classify settlements as such and then use sub-classification, if they are known. The high number of site_type=settlement supports that in my opinion.5

On a side note: I’m strongly opposed to using values like “roman_villa” and “celtic_oppidum”, because with a lot of those terms, they are mostly associated with that one historic:civilization anyway, and that information should only be stored under that key.

  1. This does not take all the wrongly tagged Japanese and Russian occurrences into account which tend to turn out to be names or descriptions once translated. 

  2. i.e. tags like “ancient_city” etc (“ancient” should go into historic:civilization with more precision. 

  3. i.e. tags like “deserted_village” etc 

  4. A surprisingly low number. 

  5. Bear in mind that most ringforts and crannogs were mapped by myself. 

tidying of site_type values

Posted by b-unicycling on 15 October 2022 in English (English). Last updated on 17 October 2022.

Following the discussion over my proposal for settlement_type=crannog, I have done some clean-ups in the Historical group. Dear me, it was needed.

Today, I tackled site_type on taginfo which comprised of 38 messy pages. I spent 3.5hours

  • fixing spelling mistakes
  • changing upper case to lower case
  • changing spaces to underscores
  • translating values from a myriad of languages into English etc
  • translating and fixing values for historic:civilization
  • moving values from site_type to description or name
  • etc.

faulty tagging for hill forts

faulty tagging for tombs

I did not attempt to translate from Russian/ Chinese/ Japanese, but there is a lot of work waiting out there for those who are able to speak those.

We will see how many pages of values there are tomorrow.

It would be a huge project to get these tags more systematic and documented, so at least there wouldn’t be an excuse for messy mapping any longer.

Even just to decide on one key for cemetery/ burial/ burial_ground/ burial_site/ necropolis/ grave_yard/ grave_field/ graves/ mass_grave would be a start (cemetery seems a difficult word for people to spell).

It was very interesting to see what people have mapped all over the world, though.

EDIT 2022-10-16: It’s down to 32 pages now. Working on more translations today.

EDIT: 2022-10-17: It’s now down to 23 pages. There were a lot of values more suitable for name or description on the last pages (mainly Russian, Japanese and other languages where I definitely needed GoogleTranslate), but I’ve tried to move them accordingly.

Has anyone ever mapped an area because it was in some true crime podcast or video? I mapped the area (i.e. buildings) in Co. Cork in Ireland where the Sophie du Plantier murder took place while listening to a podcast about it.

And then Netflix went and made a documentary about it and used all that lovely OSM material without attribution.

Location: Dunmanus, West Cork, County Cork, Munster, Ireland

tidying stiles

Posted by b-unicycling on 26 August 2022 in English (English).

I was preparing a video tutorial about stiles (online tomorrow morning on my channel). Even though I have mapped quite a few stiles while hiking, I came to the realization that I had mapped a lot of them wrong (mostly using OSMAnd, where I have to remember a lot of tags, bc they’re not presets) after reading the wiki page barrier=stile. Oops. While reading the page, it occurred to me that it was a bit messy, so I tried to tidy it up a bit and tried to find some examples for such cases that are a bit tricky to decide, like the stepover. I had tagged some of those as ladder, because they included more than one step.

I also took a look at the taginfo for the stile values, and boy, was there chaos! I mean, we’re mostly all humans, so we make mistakes and typos which might then be propagated through auto-text in JOSM or copying and pasting, who knows. I actually found one mistake I made myself this way. Some were obvious typos (steover) that I could correct without having visited the site, for others, I contacted the person who had added them (sometimes as far back as 8 years ago, so they couldn’t remember, and just had to delete the stile=* line, unfortunately).

But I also looked at commonly used ones like hipster and added explanations to the wiki page. Two I had to translate into English, and I hope I did it correctly, because they were both in languages I don’t speak, so I used image search to figure out what could be meant. I reduced the list from 4 pages of values to 2.5, so it’s a bit tidier now.

I also saw a strange squeezer stile on Twitter (coincidentally) and asked the person to upload the photograph to Wikicommons.

I noticed three undocumented values that I think describe the same situation and started a discussion on the Discussion page. Please have a look.

I recommend getting mapillary or similar from hiking trails, if you can, because it would help with mapping stiles. I know it’s a bit awkward, but it is possible to hold a selfie-stick with a phone to capture images, even if you walk for hours. Or use an action camera - I have yet to try that.

Update on thatched building mapping

Posted by b-unicycling on 3 August 2022 in English (English). Last updated on 5 August 2022.

Disclaimer: yes, I know, it’s absolutely micro mapping, but see “Side effects”.

It’s now been about 4 weeks since I started mapping thatched buildings in Ireland more systematically than just ad hoc adding roof:material=thatch whenever I saw one. I had focussed on Co. Kilkenny, because of a 1994 survey carried out by thatcher and archaeologist Jimmy Lenehan in that county, so all I had to do was revisit the sites and check whether the roof:material was still the same. I ended up visiting about 58 of of the 106 sites in his survey. (I tried to remember to add survey_date to those, so I could run an overpass query.)

He also told me about some newly thatched buildings, where I could add the tag, too.

I also had a long talk with him in his own thatched house which was a very interesting experience, because it was a very warm day (for Ireland), and the thatch really did insulate the house really well. He is not very good with technology, but I think he understood the potential of mapping the thatched buildings on an OpenData platform. I’ve added ref:IE:lenehan to the buildings from his survey and documented the tag in the wiki.

I also had a chat with our Heritage Officer who thought it was a good idea to undertake a new survey, but doesn’t seem to grasp the advantages of crowd sourcing and OpenData quite as much as I would hope. She is under the impression that I’m only doing a photographic survey, because I told her that I was uploading the photographs to WikiCommons (about 82 uploads for Co. Kilkenny so far). She asked if I would provide these images to their county archive as well, because “not everybody knows how to use that OpenData thing”. Well, everybody knows how to use Google, that should bring them to WikiCommons straight away. So I politely explained that and declined providing duplicate content. Needless to say, there is also no public funding for a survey this year, so I’ll just soldier on in my own time and out of my own pocket.

I had chats with some residents of thatched cottages, especially in South Kilkenny where they are concentrated. I still believe it is because of the rivers as the natural habitat of the material rather than the thatchers. In my third video, available from Aug 6th of my thatched buildings series and the uMap, I think it becomes quite obvious. I’m not saying that there is no correlation, obviously there will be or were more people thatching in an area where the material was/ is grown, but the material was there first.

distribution of thatchers in the past and thatched buildings distribution of rivers
Thatchers c.1880-1930 and thatched buildings 2022 main rivers and thatched buildings

Thatching history of buildings

I was able to ask those residents/ owners of thatched buildings when their buildings was last thatched and by whom. I added that information as thatch_date (not documented yet, but similar to start_date) or, where applicable, thatch:end_date (also not documented). I also got some of that information from the two thatchers I’ve spoken to so far, and I have to catch up on adding that information still.

thatch dates thatch dates on overpass

I’ve also added thatcher_name with the information given by the owners or what I found in Jimmy’s survey or from the other thatcher (Matty Kelly) I talked to. This one is documented in the wiki. Sometimes, I got a whole biography of a roof, so to speak.

distribution of thatchers overpass for thatcher_name

Protected structures

I also added ref:IE:niah (documented) for those buildings on the National Index of Architectural Heritage which was quite sobering, because since the government’s last survey, quite a few buildings have lost their thatched roof and therefore their qualification to be on that list (I presume). A new survey by the ministry is planned for the next two years, I believe. (See “side effects”).

Side effects

Yes, it is very much micro mapping or even smaller than micro, but on the one hand, I’m trying to make a point to show the authorities what OpenData can do, and on the other hand, a lot of collateral mapping got done along the way:

Working with the authorities

While trying to locate the thatched buildings and adding their ref:IE:niah, I sometimes found that their location on the government map was wrong, so I contacted the department with my alternative locations, and they were implemented over night. Thank you, Damian!

I also created a concordance of the numbering in Jimmy’s survey with another survey conducted by the Office of Public Works in the same year and provided it to our local Heritage Council with annotations of which buildings were no longer thatched.

Rural mapillary

As I was visiting the sites, mostly on public transport, on my bike or on foot, but also one trip in a car, I took mapillary footage of very rural areas where usually nobody else goes: South Kilkenny, Callan area.

New roads

Especially on two round trips on my bike near Callan, I took very minor roads and discovered one previously mapped as an incomplete track, which turned out to be a connecting road.

I furthermore discovered a reference number for a minor road which had been classified as a service road before. I felt quite like an explorer. :D


Since I was depending on public transport so much, I sometimes had over an hour left before the bus home went, so I used that time SCing Callan (mostly). I always try to kill at least two birds with one stone, so when I was stuck for transport home after a gig with my band, I took an AirBnB and surveyed that village in the evening and continued on the next day to meet a thatcher. house numbers in Durrow Previously no house numbers and no building site mapped and wrong or missing street names

(I’m probably forgetting things here…)

Public transport routes

Since I had to take unmapped bus routes, I tracked them on OSMAnd and added them to OSM. They’re incomplete, because I didn’t need to go the whole way, but at least it’s definitely ground truth.

Bus route 828


I tried to be very thorough when I uploaded the photographs and added as much structured Wikidata as possible (like the townland for every photograph, viewpoint location and object location) to make the images as useful and accessible as possible. I learned a bit along the way, but might have made some mistakes, because I hadn’t done this before.

And when I came across a castle or a lime kiln along the way, I took pictures of those as well, obviously, and uploaded them.

Work experience

I also got to help Matty out one day preparing the scallops for thatching, but that’s got nothing to do with mapping…There might be a video on my channel in the future.

Radio interview

I was also interviewed for the local radio, but the interviewer “got confused” about OSM, so his questions didn’t focus too much on that, unfortunately. I tried, I really did. It’ll be broadcast August 7th, I believe.


I’ll continue with this for another while. I’m also hoping to talk to our Minister for Heritage, Something, Something and Housing (I can never remember, he’s Malcolm to me) about the need for more support of owners of thatched buildings and the need to preserve areas where water reed is grown. I had learned from Matty Kelly that many farmers in South Wexford (an area quite known for its thatched buildings) are draining fields, so that water reed cannot grow there any longer. Have I mentioned that it is imported from Turkey and the Ukraine? Not very sustainable. (I was going to meet the minister in a different matter anyway, but people have suggested that I should bring it up with him.)

I might write a paper about this at some point, focussing less on the mapping and more on the heritage (grown and built) angle, but of course promoting OSM. Try to stop me!

Sin é bhfuil. Thanks for reading until the end.

Location: Portnascully, The Municipal District of Piltown, County Kilkenny, Leinster, Ireland

mapping thatched buildings

Posted by b-unicycling on 6 July 2022 in English (English). Last updated on 12 July 2022.

I’m preparing a video tutorial on thatched buildings - it’s dead simple, but it’s an interesting topic, I thought. So I was doing a bit of research trying to learn something about local thatching traditions and came across a 1994 survey by - it turns out - a thatcher. I only came across one volume which is basically a photo album of 106 thatched buildings in Co. Kilkenny with handwritten captions given the location. Location being in most cases the townland. But because it is handwritten and because this is Ireland, I have not been able to identify all the townlands.

What I’m doing now is trying to find the townland and trying to identify the building. Most times, if there are other buildings in the picture, it is possible to spot them in the townland by comparing the arrangement of buildings. Luckily, most buildings in Co. Kilkenny are mapped thanks to our #osmIRL_buildings project. And luckily, those are mostly old buildings, so I don’t have to worry about them being built since 2019. The National Index of Architectural Heritage is somewhat helpful in that they have indexed some of those buildings, but not all. They have a map where you can find a blue dot for those marking the spot. However, they are not always correct. They also have pictures of those buildings (sometimes also the wrong ones) which I can compare to that survey/ photo album. Sometimes, rarely, because those are very rural areas, I have mapillary to work with.

If they are not too far away and accessible for a non-driver like me, I’ll go and check them out in situ, take mapillary and a photo or two for Wikimedia. #OpenData, baby!

You can kind of see on Esri World Imagery (Clarity) Beta, whether it is thatched or a slate roof, because the thatched roofs have smoother corners and the colour is a bit different.

When I think that I have positively identified one, I add roof:material and wherever I have that information, building:levels and roof:levels (only if I get a gable view or there are dormer windows) and ref:IE:niah and wikimedia and mapillary links. This will result in a much better machine readable database than NIAH, hopefully.

Future/ possible extra keys

I would like to also add thatch:material, but I can’t tell from the photos (yet), and it isn’t an established key (yet).

It would also be interesting for someone interested in vernacular architecture to record since when those buildings are thatched, because some are recently built or only recently re-thatched after having had a different roof material for decades or longer. They are not as much affected by the necessity to source the material locally as was the case a hundred or two hundred years ago.

Some are also no longer thatched; maybe I should use was:roof:material=thatch, even better with a life cycle tag.

What can be learned?

Even when trying to locate the townlands, I got the impression that the few remaining thatched buildings are concentrated along rivers. That makes sense, because that is where the material used to be grown. (Not any more thanks to climate change and pollution - it now has to be imported from Turkey.)

Strangely enough, there are no old thatched houses along the main rivers. I presume this is because of the human intervention in straightening them and messing with the soil around them, so that the material couldn’t be grown there.

Side effects

  1. While trying to identify the building, I have come across unmapped buildings that were overlooked during the #osmIRL_building task for Kilkenny. Some are not mapped neatly, so I can go and fix that.

  2. While trying to locate the building on the NIAH map, I have found mistakes in their location where the alignment of buildings does not match their image and mine. I can report those to the NIAH, and hopefully, they will fix it. I think that they only survey every 10 years, so that is how long it can take them (if they discover that mistake) to fix it.

  3. I’m filling the newly created Wikicommons category Vernacular architecture in Ireland.

Edmund Rice Heritage Centre, Callan


Here’s an overpass-turbo query of the buildings and the main rivers in Co. Kilkenny (I had to create relations for quite a few of them, too).

I’m using the hashtag #thatch for those changesets.


Location: Knocktopher, The Municipal District of Callan — Thomastown, County Kilkenny, Leinster, Ireland

Busman's holidays in North Wales

Posted by b-unicycling on 18 June 2022 in English (English). Last updated on 20 June 2022.

First of all: North Wales is lovely, and I’d definitely go there again.

I went for a short holiday to North Wales with DeBigC this week and did a lot of mapping while there, but that was intended. Let me break down what we did:


Very little mapillary had been done, so we walked around (I’m especially pleased with the walk on the Conwy town wall) and also captured as much as we could on the buses we took (see below). Capturing mapillary on the bus has the advantage of getting a slightly different perspective than on the car. The disadvantage is that we didn’t bring phone holders to attach to the window, so our arms got a bit tired after a while. Show mapillary captured by me

Bus travel

We relied mostly on public transport. (It seems that Bangor taxi drivers do not know their local area very well - we took four taxis, and all four of them didn’t find the place we were staying at. The pizza delivery guys were much better.) I continued my mission to map public transport routes which I had started in Ireland. So I completely mapped bus route 58 (might have missed the odd bus stop, where the bus didn’t stop). For our way back to the ferry in Holyhead, we decided to take the “scenic route” and take different buses, so I got the lines 42, 4A and X4 partially mapped. All routes mapped shown on overpass-turbo. This gave us the chance to spend some time in Llanfair­pwllgwyngyll­gogery­chwyrn­drobwll­llan­tysilio­gogo­goch and map a few POIs around the café there. bus routes

Mile stones and benchmarks

Of course, I was on the lookout for benchmarks as well, and it seems I found 15. Some of them were on old milestones (historic=milestone), which I also added to OpenStreetMap. Some of the milestones, I only spotted from the X4 bus, so the location might not be precise to the meter. There are 11 now mapped in that area, but I’m not sure if I added all 11 or only 10. And of course, I didn’t get their inscriptions from looking out the window on the bus. More work for someone else to complete. historic milestones


Differences in mapping

We noticed that the street names were all mapped, and found out that they had been made OpenData. Great idea - I wish we could get that data open in Ireland. We added loads and loads of buildings, because sometimes we struggled to add shops and other POIs, because the buildings weren’t shown on StreetComplete or OSMAnd.

DeBigC might have more to say about that.

I noticed some emergency=defibrillator being mapped, but I added a couple more - roughly 12 or so. Again, a lot of them spotted from the bus. The density of AEDs seemed much higher than in Ireland.


I noticed (and mapped) quite a few of these green stickers with QR codes on them indicating historical sites that aren’t otherwise already equipped with information boards. ( At least, that seemed to be the rule to me. I used the above tag, and I will start a proposal for them as well. I only added title:en to them, because I was afraid that my phone would do too much damage auto-“correcting” the Welsh words. But I think I got mapillary images of all of them. QR code example

That was it. It felt good to make an impact while on holidays.

Location: Bangor, Gwynedd, Wales, United Kingdom

Now that the weather is more welcoming, i.e. dry, I’ve gone back to mapping walking and hiking trails in my area. I had done that before, either added the trail completely new as a relation with all that’s included, sometimes just added the trail markers, where the trail was already mapped. Most times, I try to do mapillary as well, sometimes just with the phone, sometimes with a 360° camera.

Today, I went to map the O’Gorman’s Lane Loop which is only a 4km walk (that is if you don’t get lost…), but it meets another, longer trail which was already mapped. But anyway, I ran into an American couple, Don and Kim who are exploring Ireland on rented motorbikes, but are also avid hikers and have hiked across the Czech Republic, Germany, Switzerland etc. Don was telling me that he has this app which shows all the trails and it’s free! And I said, well, it’s people like me who add those trails to OpenStreetMap which in turn adds it to your app. We parted ways, but I had a suspicion that I would run into them again after in the only café in the village. And I did. I walked up to them and gave him an sticker (always handy in any bag I carry around). Once I had taken off my backpack, he could see the “OpenStreetMap surveyor” on my high viz vest, and the penny dropped. He had loads of questions and all the right ones, so I joined their table and chatted away with him.

He said that he wanted to map all the benches along the Camino. :D (We had noticed earlier that there are never enough benches along hiking trails in Ireland.) He also wants his name on one of those benches, and I explained that those little plaques can be added to OSM as well. He was very impressed, I think. They wanted to pay for my scone, but I had already paid. But we decided to share a taxi back, even though I would have been fine on the bus, and had told them about the bus as well.

He might look into it and become a mapper himself, who knows…It’s much easier to “convert” an OSM user into a mapper (even if they don’t know it’s OSM material), I would think.

PS: Videos about how to map hiking trails on my YouTube channel

Archaeological Discovery

Posted by b-unicycling on 28 April 2022 in English (English). Last updated on 8 May 2022.

I have very exciting news to share, but a disclaimer first: I am not an archaeologist; I have only picked up a bit of knowledge here and there through my interest in the topic. taskmanager County Tipperary As I am working my way through the task of mapping all the buildings in County Tipperary in Ireland, my process usually involves switching from the Esri World Imagery (Clarity) Beta satellite imagery to the British War office map layer to see whether there are any historical things I can add as well. This is not part of the task (apart from the odd housename or name of a ruined church or castle), but it’s what keeps this tedious job interesting for me. A common feature I can add are ringforts (Wikipedia link), an early medieval settlement form in Ireland, often enough easily identifyable on the satellite imagery as a circular group of trees or a crop mark.

When I opened the highlighted task in JOSM, I noticed a crop mark (see screenshot). Esri screenshot with crop mark It’s definitely circular, so I switched to the British War Office map, and it wasn’t there. Intrigued, I opened the Historic Environment Viewer which is a map of all recorded archaeological sites and monuments with several background layers to choose from. It was not on that one either. I was getting really excited!

If one thinks that one has discovered an unrecorded monument, one can fill in a form with the Sites and Monuments Records office, and they will investigate. This was not the first time for me, and the officer for Kilkenny and Tipperary, Jean Farrelly, had told me that I could contact her directly by email. Which I did with a screenshot of the Esri imagery, coordinates and what I thought it might be. I also checked against the Google imagery, because I knew that she would and had done before, because she had rejected other reports before, because the crop marks I thought I could see weren’t visible on any other satellite imagery. It was not on the Google imagery, so my hopes were somewhat diminished.

But behold! The next day, I had a reply from her saying that it was a “lovely find” and that she had classified it as an “enclosure” and attributed the record number TS053-102.1

I was absolutely over the moon! After probably thousands of hours looking at satellite imagery (not an exaggeration, if you look at my statistics on neis-one), I had finally made a genuine discovery! I had to agree to have my name displayed with the record, which of course I did. And spread the news on SocialMedia, not so much as self-promotion, but also to show that craft mappers/ citizen scientists can make such discoveries.

Very early on, I noticed that the tree/ hedge line to the south of the site followed the curvature of the enclosure2. screenshot archaeological record So did Jean, as you can see in her assessment. She says that the townland boundary3 follows the curvature. That made me check OpenStreetMap and the British War Office map again, and I noticed that we had mapped the townland boundary wrong: old version of townland boundary Not only was it overlooked that the townland boundary kinked out away from the road, but also was the boundary not ON the road, but along the side of the road, possibly a ditch4 or a hedge. screenshot British War Office map It is quite hard to see that the boundary leaves the road alignment, but there are faint dots along the tree/ hedge line. Of course, I corrected it, because it had become potentially historically more significant. And it had to be correct. corrected townland boundary This potentially means that this tree/ hedge line is very, very old and following an early medieval boundary surrounding the possible ringfort.

There is also an old (how old?) road name to the West of the feature - “Borheenharty”. I presume that “borheen” is a corrupted version of the Anglicized “boreen” which means “small road” or “lane” (from Irish bo for cow), and -harty might be a family name. I would have to check the Ordnance Survey letters to try and find out, but I haven’t had the time to do that yet.

It’s not a new Newgrange, but it’s something, and it’ll keep me motivated for a while to keep going with the #osmIRL_buildings task.

HUGE BIG thanks to Jean for her quick reply and patience with me. ;-)

EDIT (2022-05-08)

It has gotten a bit of media attention with an article on Tipperary Live and the Kilkenny People and an interview on national radio (Moncrieffe Show on Newstalk, 40 mins in). More interviews scheduled… All publicity for OpenStreetMap, hurray!

  1. “TS” stands for “Tipperary South Riding”, and I don’t know how the rest of the number is made up. The second number is sequential by the time of discovery, I believe. 

  2. Because it has been plough levelled, it is impossible to say, if it is in fact a ringfort or “just” an animal enclosure. 

  3. It’s actually the townland of Garryard (=”High Field”), though. I’m not sure if the townland name has anything to do with the feature, because on - ehem - Google StreetView, it looks fairly flat, but that could just be, because it is plough-levelled. 

  4. In Irish farmers’ speak, a “ditch” is a combination of a ditch and an embankment, I believe. 

Location: Nodstown, The Municipal District of Cahir — Cashel, County Tipperary, Munster, Ireland

The Pursuit of Dermot & Grania (or Diarmuid and Grainne)

Posted by b-unicycling on 11 April 2022 in English (English). Last updated on 17 April 2022.

To help me procrastinate from mapping the buildings in Co. Tipperary and because I came across one of them recently, I’ve decided to go on my own pursuit of Diarmuid agus Gráinne on OpenStreetMap. There are a couple of instances on the British War Office map all over the country that are marked as “Dermot & Grania’s Bed”. According to Irish mythology (to cut a very long story short), Grainne made Diarmuid flee with her from her engagement party, and they fled across the whole country, sleeping out in the open (first separate, later not so much).

Throughout history, secretive or mysterious places like caves, dolmens etc have been given that name. The legend is mentioned a couple of times in the Schools Collection on, so that is what I’m using now to track them down, because I cannot search the British War Office map. Unfortunately, I can only read the English texts… But their journey will be trackable, once I am done.

Maybe I’ll get to see one of them at some point.

I’m using the hashtag #Diarmuid&Grainne for my changesets, if anyone wants to check it out. Check for yourself on overpass-turbo. (Thanks, Daniel!)

progress map

Location: Binbane ED, Donegal Municipal District, County Donegal, Ireland

I went house number surveying with StreetComplete yesterday in Callan, Co. Kilkenny. They have some very strange house numbering there, I can tell you.

One case, where whoever screwed the numbers on the door got them mixed up, so the sequence goes 34, 35, 63, 37 etc. But that’s what’s on the door, so that’s how I mapped it.

Another case, where the sequence is out of order, but presumably, because the houses got their number in the order they were built in.

Then I continued along Mill Street into what would eventually become Collins Park with a sign of the name in English and Irish in a wall (mapillary), so at least, I had some idea of the street name. However, the numbering continued from Mill Street (with ridiculously high numbers for Ireland, if I may add). I decided to ask the resident of no. 462 what street he lived on, and his answer was “The sat nav says Collins Park.” Very likely (everybody I know who isn’t a mapper uses it), that means GoogleMaps. So, what street do I put under addr:street? Do I follow the logic of the sequencing and give his house addr:street=Mill Street, yet adding “Collins Park” as the name to highway=street or do I follow the local’s information which in this case is very, very likely taken from Google? And which could easily lead to duplicate numbers for the same street?

I’ve done it the other way around for now, but I’m not happy with it.

A similar problem occurred elsewhere, where the name of the street “Green Lane” presumably continues from where I saw the only sign (sorry, no photograph, but it’s the street that led/ leads to the Fair Green), but the sequence on one side of the road continues from Mill Street, but across the road, one of the houses had “2 Kingscourt” (mark the different spelling from the actual street name - Kings Court - , FFS, isn’t anything easy in Callan?!). After my tagging, the houses on either side belong to different streets which they are not physically on.

Note also, that the houses on either side of the wall here- north and south of it seem to be belonging to the same numbering sequence, but not a single sign of a street name anywhere to be found.

I also don’t really know which addr:street to add to the houses from “Innisfree” to (presumably) no. 7 (no sign on the door) here, because Bolton Green already has a 1-7, definitely 5-7 anyway.

Thank God for eircodes…

Location: Bolton, Callan Rural, The Municipal District of Callan — Thomastown, County Kilkenny, Leinster, Ireland

When I was out do a bit of mapping (mostly house numbers and opening hours) in Clonmel with StreetComplete, I noticed an opening hours sign specifically for autism friendly opening hours. I had seen them before on supermarkets in Ireland, but this time, it led me to start a proposal for a new key to be able to map those, because I was at a loss there. It was a Vodafone shop, but I did some quick online research, and it is not uncommon in Ireland for shopping centres or supermarkets to have them. Some are referenced in the proposal.

The organization behind it is As I Am, a charity supporting people with autism and families with autistic family members.

It means that the lights are dimmed, there is no background music and announcements are kept at a minimum. I’m not diagnosed with autism, but I wish all this was done all the time and not just one or two hours per week.

3D model for visually impaired people

Posted by b-unicycling on 23 February 2022 in English (English). Last updated on 6 March 2022.

As part of my video tutorial series about the Derrynaflan Trail in Co. Tipperary, Ireland (playlist), I had made some videos about 3D mapping and the feedback was quite good. One non-mapper asked me what the use of 3D mapping was. So I decided to try and use it for a practical reason. (There will be a video about this as well in a couple of days.)

I have a blind friend who was very excited about a bronze model of Waterford a few years back, so I thought that I would do something like that, but on a smaller scale. I have some experience with 3D modelling and printing from years ago, but I’m in no way an expert.

I chose the churchyard in Magorban for this, because a man who, according to his gravestone, was a “friend of the blind” - Thomas Armitage (Wikipedia) - is buried there. There is a video about mapping his grave as well. I decided to recreate the graveyard and the church which happens to be a church of the Board of First Fruits (Wikipedia) tradition, and I thought that would add educational value.

The problem was that it can be quite expensive to get a model of that size printed and I thought I would have to get a sponsor or start a GoFundMe, and I thought that that was maybe a bit too much effort for just one video. Luckily, I had heard that our local library has a 3D printer, and I was flabbergasted to learn that it was free to print there! So, I met the guy in charge and looked at the printer etc etc. Him and his colleagues were quite excited, because they don’t get to print projects like that very often.

I won’t go into any detail about the technical side of it, because it will be covered in the video. He needed an *.stl file, but could convert *.obj as well, so that’s what I sent him. I was a bit limited in the size by whatever size the printer could do. I wanted the whole graveyard printed, because I was trying to print the footpath to help visually impaired people to get the perspective. I could not scale down the Braille labels, because there are specifications for that. I had a blind person test a test print, before we started printing the project which was to take 18 hours.

Magorban Church 3D 01

Magorban Church 3D Braille

Magorban Church 3D 03

The footpaths did not come out like I meant them to, the windows don’t all look the same, even though I copied and pasted them, but the Braille looks okay to me. I showed it to the blind guy and he was very impressed with the turrets and the Braille. (The thick two poles in the back indicate pine trees.)

With a better 3D printer, the details might have come out better, but I don’t think I can complain when I got it for free.

I will probably also upload the model to sketchfab, in case anyone else wants to play around with it or print it.

Overall, I think that the church should have been larger, so that visually impaired people can feel the details better. It could have been printed in two parts and glued together, for example. However, it was only a first attempt to see if it’s at all possible to work with OSM data. It is. ;-)

Here’s the link to the video on my YouTube channel.

Location: Magorban, Ardsallagh, The Municipal District of Carrick-on-Suir, County Tipperary, Munster, Ireland

Vanishing built heritage

Posted by b-unicycling on 17 February 2022 in English (English). Last updated on 19 September 2022.

The housing crisis in Ireland is really bad, to put it in simple words - I’m sure it’s similar in other countries too with potentially residential buildings being vacant, neglected, abandoned and consequently having to be demolished. If there are new houses being build on their spot, okay, at least that will reduce homelessness a bit, but some of these demolished buildings were listed as Architectural Heritage. I have tagged buildings in Kilkenny as vacant=yes and abandoned=yes (if the windows are boarded up, for example) and made a uMap of that. A Green councillor had become aware and asked me to cooperate. She is also involved in the “Keep Kilkenny Beautiful” initiative, and one of her group joined me in my survey.

Recently, I discovered that the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage had buildings listed that were long demolished (can I just say that our OSM way of curating maps is potentially so much more up to date) and reported it to them. This led me to add the tag ref:niah [EDIT: changed to ref:IE:niah] to all the vacant and abandoned buildings which were in that database. There are quite a few. Out of 80 buildings tagged “vacant”, 20 are of architectural significance and out of 28 tagged as “abandoned”, 9 have a ref:IE:niah tag. (And there is one which I think should be listed, but isn’t, but that’s for another day.)

(Unfortunately, their links need the number AND name of the building, it seems, so we cannot link directly from OSM to using that number.)

Location: Kilkenny No.2 Urban, Kilkenny, County Kilkenny, Leinster, Ireland

New video tutorial series

Posted by b-unicycling on 4 January 2022 in English (English).

If anyone is following my mapping work, they’ll know that I started a tutorial series on YouTube about a year ago, in which I focus on heritage mapping, because that’s what interests me most (even if I map way more ordinary buildings during our #osmIRL_buildings campaign than I map heritage). Between Christmas and the New Year 2022, I had been wrecking my brain about what else to do tutorials about, because I thought that I had covered most things. Then I came across a Heritage Trail in County Tipperary - the Derrynaflan Trail* - and decided to take that as an example for a new tutorial series. So, I will walk along the trail described here and focus on different mapping aspects. This will give me the opportunity to talk about tags that are not necessarily heritage related, but useful for people along the trail, i.e. amenities like car parks, public toilets, EV charging points, accommodation, restaurants etc.

Luckily, the trail is only about an hour’s drive away, so even though I happen to have visited quite a few of the sites already, I might go there again for some image material and micro mapping quests. I’m also hoping to add some more photographs to WikiCommons, because this part of the country is rarely visited by foreign tourists who happen to be contributing more than the locals to WikiCommons, unfortunately.

In the first episode, I created a multipolygon relation for the trail and added the first building to it.

*The Derrynaflan Trail is named after a church site where a very famous early Christian hoard was found which is now housed in the National Museum in Dublin (I might do an episode visiting it).

Please feel free to watch along and contribute with ideas about what else to focus on in future episodes!

Location: Killenaule, The Municipal District of Carrick-on-Suir, County Tipperary, Munster, Ireland

Busman's holiday

Posted by b-unicycling on 26 September 2021 in English (English).

Last week, I went on a short holiday to Co. Cork, and since I seem to be a workaholic, I did A LOT of mapping. One of the things I had on my to-do list was mapping local bus routes, because I personally depend on them (because I care about the planet and don’t drive) and because they are barely mapped. Part of the reason being that some of the bus routes are fairly new. Obviously, I didn’t want to spend all my days on the bus, so I only mapped the ones I actually needed to take to get from one accommodation to the next. That was Youghal to Timoleague and then back to Cork (because the first trip was during the week and the second on a Saturday, so the bus schedule was different). I had met two women in my accommodation in Timoleague who were also only travelling on public transport, one from Dublin, one from California. They both agreed that it was very difficult, because the timetables aren’t available or do not match the actual departure time of the bus. Also, to book a ticket for Bus Éireann (which is not even possible for all their buses), you need to know the exact name of the bus stop you’re going to. You’re not gonna know that unless you know the bus stop. Some of the bus stop names refer to landmarks which are gone (pub/ shop names). So you end up asking a lot of locals to find out where the bus leaves, because a high percentage of local bus stops don’t even have a sign to mark them as bus stops. So anyway, I made a start on the routes 237, 239 and 253 using OSMTracker for Android. I guess it would be good to add payment method as well, because most of those buses only take cash and some buses (in Dublin) only take the exact change, which is something important to know.

Obviously, I did way more mapping like vacant buildings, benchmarks and jostle stones (overpass-turbo) as well as addresses (Youghal needed it).

Location: Timoleague, The Municipal District of Bandon – Kinsale, County Cork, Munster, Ireland