The first phase of Ordnance Survey Ireland’s (OSI) project to develop a digital image archive containing historical maps dating back to 1837 has been completed. The archive will ultimately hold a complete record of the Irish landscape from the earliest hand-drawn maps. The OSI commissioned ESRI Ireland to conduct the mapping work. With the first phase of the project now concluded, it is intended the public will have access to the archive shortly via internet access points in every public library in Ireland.
The interest in the service is expected to be considerable, particularly among the Irish diaspora who will now be given the opportunity to research their birthplace or that of their ancestors online. This interest however is expected to increase even more significantly following the planned international launch of the project in Australia in February 2006 and at a genealogical congress in Boston in August 2006.
The aim of the project was to capture all versions of OSI mapping from 1837 to 1913 and to present these online. Initially the project just covered all six-inch maps (six inches to the mile) but it has now extended to include 25-inch maps also. With the six-inch series now completed, further work should see the 25-inch series finished by mid-2006 and other map series all digitised by the end of 2006.