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Irish Map Market

Irish Map Market

This piece is based on generalities but which nonetheless are worth considering. There have been & will always be those who appreciate good mapping, there are likewise those who have no interest in maps. In the middle is a large rump of the public who use mapping from time to time.

For the 19thC and a large part of the 20th, there was little enough interest in small & medium scale mapping in Ireland. We didn’t have an industrial revolution to the extent of others, with no great demand to escape from cities to the countryside. We were largely a rural agrarian society with little need of such maps. Furthermore the work of the Ordnance Survey was and still is more associated in the public mind with taxation, planning & land ownership. That said, many families in the cities would have had road maps for car travel and a few half inch map sheets for occasional weekend picnics and rambles.

The last 30+ years has seen a steady rise, an explosion even in accessing and exploring the countryside. Not just in an increasingly urbanised Irish society but also among the many new non nationals arriving here for work and so on. This should result in a rapid increase of demand for maps and to an extent it has. But this effect has also been greatly modified by the rapid adoption of online sources of information combined with mobile devices like smart phones.

Put simply, we still have those who appreciate good mapping and who are prepared to pay for it in print and digital forms. We still have those with zero interest in maps and the countryside. And in the middle we still have a large rump of the public, who instead of purchasing the odd map now as in the past, are happy to reach for the phone and find free map resources that meet their needs just fine.

This latter is very understandable but a map market cannot rely just on the smaller segment of those who want better mapping. It needs the business of the large number of more casual users and that of tourists. The issue is evident in book, garage & tourist shops up & down the country where you’ll barely find a map stocked these days. Obviously there are implications in this changing market for how maps will be made and who will make them.

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