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New online Digital Atlas of Cork/Corcaigh launches today

Today marks the launch of the Digital Atlas of Cork/Corcaigh, a free online interactive map that invites you to discover the built heritage of Cork City in a new way where 6,245 features of the city’s history from AD 623 to 1900 are mapped.

The atlas, based on the Irish Historic Towns Atlas of Cork/Corgaigh, includes descriptions of over 800 streets, including their names in Irish and English as well as historical variants. Users can browse the digital atlas or search for a specific site in the city. They can also select and view features associated with specific time periods, from medieval times to the present day.

Represented by a coloured symbol, each feature has been categorized into one of eleven different themes such as entertainment, manufacturing, religion and transport. When a user clicks on a feature, key information about it is displayed in a pop-up box.

A specially commissioned historical map depicts each individual house and plot during the mid-nineteenth century (1842). This is just one of a number of layered maps that may be switched on and off to show how the city developed over the centuries.

Other layers include Ordnance Survey maps — a present-day plan of the city, as well as historic maps showing Cork pre-Famine and at the turn of the twentieth century. Additional map layers will be released over the coming months, providing access for the first time to digitised town plans by the Ordnance Survey (1842) and Valuation Office (1852–64).

The Digital Atlas of Cork/Corcaigh will be of interest to a wide range of individuals from the ‘rebel city’ and beyond, including students of all levels and their teachers, researchers and planners. A downloadable user guide has been created to accompany the resource, to allow anyone to explore the Digital Atlas with further education and project work in mind.

The project has been part funded by the Heritage Council Stewardship Fund 2023. It has been supported by partners Cork City Council, the Digital Repository of Ireland, the National Archives of Ireland and Tailte Éireann


Commenting on the launch, Virginia Teehan, Chief Executive, The Heritage Council said:

‘Maps are one of the most important human inventions as they allow people to explore and understand the world, through the science of cartography. Historical maps depict past interpretations of reality and events and represent contemporary social and cultural trends. Artistically, they are beautiful. The use of digital technologies opens new opportunities for cartography and for the users of maps. The Digital Atlas of Cork/Corcaigh will greatly facilitate easy access to the rich array of source materials for understanding the evolution of Cork. The Heritage Council is very pleased to support this work and congratulates the Irish Historic Towns Atlas, Royal Irish Academy and partners Cork City Council, Digital Repository of Ireland, Tailte Éireann and the National Archives of Ireland for bringing this to fruition.’

Cllr Kieran McCarthy, Lord Mayor of Cork City commented:

‘The Irish Historic Towns Atlas Cork/Corcaigh interactive digital map is remarkable with over 6,000 entries. It is a tremendous new resource for all the people of Cork and it no doubt will instil a sense of pride in local communities, through its use in schools and libraries. In particular, the research and further reading aspect of the atlas will be a terrific source for anyone with an interest in the history and development of Cork City. I welcome this innovative project from the Royal Irish Academy, which will make the valuable research of the Irish Historic Towns Atlas available to a wider and more varied audience than heretofore.’

Ciara Brett, City Archaeologist, Cork City Council said:

‘The Cork volume of the Irish Historic Towns Atlas is the most ambitious to date, with over 6,000 sites identified in the digital interactive map. The digitising of the research compiled by Howard Clarke and Máire Ní Laoi, led by Sarah Gearty and Rachel Murphy and the team at the Royal Irish Academy, has resulted in a remarkable resource, which will contribute immensely to the work of Cork City Council and the wider professional community in Cork particularly those working in archives, museums, education, planning, architecture and conservation. The Digital Atlas, when utilised with the forthcoming printed Atlas, will be a great benefit to the study of the changing urban environment and will provide practical assistance in the preparation and implementation of planning policy and development management in the City. The IHTA Cork/Corcaigh volume in digital format will add to the existing corpus of published material and will, I believe, encourage future research and study that will enhance our understanding and appreciation of our city.’

Michael Potterton, Maynooth University and chair of the Irish Historic Towns Atlas said:

‘The release of the Irish Historic Towns Atlas Digital Atlas of Cork/Corcaigh marks a major milestone in the history of both the IHTA and recent research on the evolution of Cork city through the ages. Never before has such a breadth of detailed historical information been made available digitally and interactively for an Irish place. Indeed, the Digital Atlas of Cork/Corcaigh is a model to be followed internationally.’

Background to the Digital Atlas of Cork/Corcaigh project

The Digital Atlas of Cork/Corcaigh is based on research carried out for Irish Historic Towns Atlas, no. 31, Cork/Corcaigh by H.B. Clarke and Máire Ní Laoi, which will be published by the Royal Irish Academy in print in May 2024.

The Digital Atlas of Cork/Corcaigh is one of a series of digital atlases created by the Irish Historic Towns Atlas team (others are Derry, Dungarvan and Galway). The Cork Digital Atlas, created using ESRI Ireland’s ArcGIS Experience Builder, includes the most functionality to date. Data and layers from the Digital Atlas of Cork/Corcaigh will be preserved and made available in the Digital Repository of Ireland.

The Digital Atlas of Cork/Corcaigh is an initiative of the Digital Working Group of the Irish Historic Towns Atlas research programme. The project has been led by Sarah Gearty (Royal Irish Academy) and Rachel Murphy (University of Limerick), with Mani Morse (Dublin City University) as Digital Manager.

Press release

Read a review from the Irish Independent

Read a review in Cork Beo.

Cover image: Cork, 1610, by John Speed, Royal Irish Academy. Photograph: Rachel Murphy, Mani Morse and Sarah Gearty with the Digital Atlas of Cork/Corcaigh.


Irish Historic Towns Atlas