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Free O’Data: Ireland makes (some) data free

Apologies for the headline, but then again, it was inescapable.

But: Ireland’s geographical agency, the GSI, has made a number of its datasets about boreholes available for free online.

Announced by the minister, the web page itself is a bit spartan: “Minister Ryan launches Spatial Data Projects to allow free online access to Deptarmental data. GSI, along with PAD, EMD and Enginerring Divisions of DCENR, all contributed data to these series of web map viewers, data download pages and GIS web services. Click on [Note: this isn't a valid page, or at least not to me on my Mac] or for further details.”

The more useful data is at this page, which explains that it’s access to the borehole database:

Dr. Ronnie Creighton, Senior Geologist at GSI, explains that engineers regularly consult the database during the desk study stage in site selection and the planning of ground investigation design. ‚ÄúThe data are used to create subsurface maps of the depth to bedrock for Dublin city centre, for instance, as well as 3D visualisation of the subsurface bedrock topography. These are vital tools in construction and major infrastructure planning,‚Ä? he said.

Access to the database is free and is now online, via a specially designed web map viewer, accessible from the following GSI web page The map viewer currently provides public and professional users free access to over 12,200 digitised boreholes and trial pits from the database via an easy to use map-based interface.

An interesting contrast with the Environment Agency for England and Wales, which as we pointed out in May, is trying to charge people for details about water extraction locations:

[the] Environment Agency… used to make available the data about the location of ‚Äúsource protection zones‚Ä? – essentially, areas around groundwater sources which must be protected from pollution to avoid contamination of drinking water supplies.

We’d be interested to hear though from anyone who could tell us precisely how useful these new Irish data are. Even so, datasets online for no price? Sounds good to us.

One Response to “Free O’Data: Ireland makes (some) data free”

  1. Ray Scanlon Says:


    Just a clarification in regard to your posting. The Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI) allows free download of all its available data, after a ministerial decision back in January 2007. This policy has been extended to the non-confidential data within the Department of Communication, Energy and Natural Resources. GSI provides access from two data download sites for national datasets

    (Apologies about the broken link in the press release, the site was changed a week after the launch)

    and for clip, zip and shiping data

    GSI also has a number of web map viewers, a general public data viewer, a Groundwater viewer and the recently launched Geotechnical borehole viewer.

    Visit for information.

    Datasets freely available include bedrock geology, groundwater vulnerability, source protection sites, mineral exploration and urban geotechnical boreholes and hi-resolution marine surveying data to mention a few.

    These data are also available freely in a form to allow web mash ups, or desktop GIS integration (using OGC WMS and WFS standards). Users can connect to using an OGC compatible viewer or connect to the path names on our web site (


    Ray Scanlon
    Senior Geologist
    Information Management Programme
    Geological Survey of Ireland

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