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SC2036 Mapping Our Place: Insights and Skills for Mapping Our Heritage

Ended 12 Apr 2021

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Full course description

Course Overview

This course will introduce participants to the exciting treasure trove of publically accessible maps available on the Internet. A variety on interactive Internet maps of current and historic content will be examined, as will the types of information used for heritage mapping will be explained. Participants will learn skills and techniques to be able to record their own information, from a diverse range of features such as local field- and place-names; flora and fauna species in public spaces; undocumented archaeological sites; locations of historic events; places of ecclesiastical interest; vanished aspects of urban streetscapes; geological curiosities; coastal landforms; natural habitats; historic industrial landmarks and buildings. The list is limited only by our imagination. If the information has link to a place - it can be mapped, shared, discussed, and remembered.

The course will introduce some of the ways digital cartography and map data are used by local authorities, government bodies, research groups, and community development programmes. Examples of published geoinformation will be examined enabling insights into how geoinformation should be recorded. Participants will learn how to recognise and navigate the Jekyll and Hyde dual personality of the Irish Grid system, and how to translate latitude and longitude and GPS data into the language of mapping in the Irish Grid.

Methods of recording and cataloguing geo-information will be demonstrated from the comfort of your home, using only an Excel spreadsheet, an Internet map, or using a free smartphone GPS app for mapping ‘in the field’. The ultimate objective of displaying your own catalogue of geo-information on a map will be carried out using Google Maps. 

Participants will also be introduced to the exciting world OpenStreetMap, and learn how communities, local and worldwide, are contributing to this freely available map. Further explorations of the features in the 3D virtual globe Google Earth will reveal how to create maps and enhance them with your own photos, video and audio – all of which can be shared or published online. If that is not enough, participants will see how to create a movie flying from space down to their local place, all in Google Earth.  And if 3D maps don’t fully satisfy, the option of introducing the 4thdimension of Time into a map will also be explored, allowing the past and present to be showcased in the one medium.

The course will be of benefit to individuals working independently, or in a team, who wish to acquire skills for recording, cataloguing, and presenting information with a ‘locational’ relevance (geoinformation). Topics will cover an assortment of natural and cultural heritage themes, and introduce participants to reliable methods of cataloguing and sharing information with a geographic context. The course is not exclusive to heritage interests however, it will be of value to anyone who entertains an interest in maps, and the possibilities of recording their own information and creating a map.

All in all, the course will demonstrate the contributions community-based mapping can make to 21st century cartography – and how anyone can make a map.


Course Schedule 

Classes will be delivered online on Wednesdays 7-9pm for eight weeks from 27 January to 24 March. This course will be delivered online over eight 2-hour lectures on Wednesday nights from 7pm to 9pm. There will be a short break in the middle every evening.  Evening classes will include live demonstrations on a wide variety of Internet maps, had methods of recording your own geoinformation, ways to create your own map, and introductions to the exciting developments in community-based mapping. Whilst the methods demonstrated will rely on a certain degree of ‘technical’ computer skills, all content is presented at an easy-to-follow pace, and recorded to allow participants to return and repeat. As the course is delivered online – all participants will have all the required tools on their computer - right at their fingertips. 


Week 1: Unfolding Digital Maps 1: An Introduction to Maps on the Internet.

Week 2: Unfolding Digital Maps 2: A Further Exploration of Maps of Ireland on the Internet.

Week 3: Irish Grid and GPS: Recognising the right coordinates.

Week 4: Mapping from the Comfort of your Chair: Recording information using Internet maps.

Week 5: Outdoor Mapping with a Smartphone: Recording information ‘in the field’ using GPS.

Week 6: The Making of a Map: Displaying Your Information on Google Maps 

Week 7: Google Earth: Tricks, 3D Movies and 4D Maps

Week 8: The Community Mapping Revolution: OpenStreetMap, and Open Source Mapping Apps

Course Lecturer

Geologist Dr. Ronan Hennessy works in the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, UCC, where he teaches digital mapping, map interpretation and geoscience. Ronan has worked in cross-disciplinary projects covering aspects of geoheritage, geotourism, habitat mapping, archaeology, Irish language planning, railway heritage, public policy and health,  and schools outreach programmes. In previous roles, Ronan was Senior Technical Officer in GIS at NUI Galway’s Ryan Institute, and the Geopark Geologist on the Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Geopark. Ronan has co-authored books on the geological heritage of Co. Mayo (2019), Co. Galway (2011) and the Burren (2010), as well as conducting County Geological Heritage Audits for 14 counties in Ireland.

Entry Requirements

Applicants must be at least 18 years old at course commencement.


Short courses are not assessed. Students will receive a UCC Certificate of Attendance upon completion.

Closing Date for Application

Monday 18 January

Contact Details for Further Information

Regina Sexton, Phone: 021-4904700, Email: