Galway County Council’s Geographical Information System (GIS) Section and Heritage Office working in partnership with various community heritage groups, BirdWatch Ireland, Galway Rural Development, Geological Survey Ireland, The Heritage Council, Athenry Arts & Heritage Centre and others have created a number of unique StoryMaps to help tell remarkable stories about the rich heritage and biodiversity of the County. Built on leading edge geospatial technology it is hoped that these custom storymaps will inform and inspire people to explore the wealth of heritage that is available right on their doorstep.
These StoryMaps bring together the latest mapping technology with text, images and multimedia content to tell powerful location based stories accessible from any internet enabled device with a Web Browser including Tablets and Phones. They are therefore an ideal tool to communicate the story of our rich heritage and biodiversity in the county.
Barry Doyle and Brídín Feeney of the Council’s GIS Section stated “StoryMaps are a simple yet powerful way to share information and enlighten, engage, and inspire people with stories that relate to locations of interest around us. They incorporate location and mapping into the context of a story.”
Ian Doyle, Head of Conservation at Heritage Council, commented that “this digital resource brings the richness of our heritage to new and wider audiences. Ireland’s natural and cultural heritage has the ability to change a walk into an opportunity for learning and helps bring communities together. It is great to see so many agencies and organisations working together to deliver this project and we hope it will develop and grow.”
Using this multimedia approach has very strong potential for public engagement. Essentially anything that can be shown on a map can be the subject of a story map!
Conor Carty, LEADER Programme Manager said “These StoryMaps represent a wonderful community resource to promote and increase knowledge on biodiversity across Galway. It is hoped that they will provide inspiration and knowledge on the future conservation of our biodiversity”.
Eileen Ruane, Director of Service commented that “during the lockdown very many people rediscovered our beautiful natural landscape and our rich heritage. The StoryMaps are a wonderful tool to showcase our County to an even larger audience and encourage greater awareness of biodiversity and heritage.”
John Lusby of BirdWatch Ireland stated, “Spending time in nature benefits us all, but often people are unsure about where to go and how to enjoy the natural world. These StoryMaps provides information for everyone who wants to know more about the wild places and wildlife that we share our County with and how we can easily explore and appreciate these places’’.
Making heritage and biodiversity more accessible to everyone is one of our main goals in Galway County Council according to Marie Mannion, Heritage Officer “Story Maps play an important role in this by offering valuable information in a user-friendly way”.
Koen Verbruggen, Director of Geological Survey Ireland said "I congratulate Galway County Council on making the results of the recent County Geoheritage Audit available in such an accessible and attractive way. The County Geological Sites across the county tell the great story of Ireland and it's interesting and diverse geological history."
Interested persons can virtually visit each of the 134 sites and explore where they are, what they look like with a beautiful set of photographs for each site, and read about their fascinating geological history. The story map provides a platform for both local and education based studies of Galway’s Geological History and Heritage, and showboats the county for interested tourists and visitors.
Cllr Peter Keaveney said “these interactive Story Maps will help open up opportunities for all of our communities, schools and individuals to explore our heritage and biodiversity and get involved in raising awareness and knowledge of built, natural, cultural heritage and our geoheritage and safeguarding it for the future.”
The link to the The Geological Heritage of County Galway is https://arcg.is/LvuHO0 .