A promise made good18th December 2009
In recent days, Mapyx has brought out OSNI 1:50000 Discoverer mapping data for Quo with 1:25000 due to follow. Having found some free time, I got a quick chance to metaphorically kick some tyres. As with OSi maps, you cannot have OS maps and OSNI maps open at once but there is no bar to shuttling over and back across the Irish border in the digital world. Tiles for either provider are £1.99 each with the entire OSNI set going for a not unreasonable £39.99.
However, there are no grid lines on the NI maps that I have in my sample. That surprised me and makes rough and ready estimations of distance a non-starter; you need to use Quo's route planning tools to get a handle on distances and to determine grid references. However, you'll be glad to know that the OSNI's paper maps do not have the same feature as my copy of Sheet 29 (covering the Mourne Mountains and published in 2008) is well crossed with those ever useful lines and feeling very like an equivalent OSi specimen, albeit with townlands superimposed on the back of the sheet. The digital counterpart to the same looks bleached in comparison but it may have been decided that all those greens and browns obscured the contour lines anyway. In contrast, the OSi have gone for faithful reproduction instead but there's merit in both approaches.
Because Quo's overview map for Britain and Ireland is only available with the OS coordinates system, you could find OSi and OSNI tiles lying on a white background. Adding the OSi's 1:600000 overview map of the island of Ireland to your collection for £4.99 does help to bring together an incomplete tile collection and get around it. Also available for £4.99 is a copy of the OSNI gazetteer that allows to search for places on NI like you'd do for mainland Britain with the OS Landranger gazetteer database.
All this perusal of Northern Ireland maps sits uneasily with the lack of attention that I have given the province. The Mourne Mountains certainly look promising and there are the Glens of Antrim too along with the Sperrin Mountains; lack of choice clearly isn't a problem then. Now, when might there be a visit?