An Orienteering Mapping History of Cronybyrne (Vale of Clara) and Ballinastraw

Pat Healy of Map Masters has a long association with orienteering and orienteering mapping in the Vale of Clara (Cronybyrne) and Ballinastraw. He has pulled together some information about the history of the map and major events in the area – Ajax are very grateful to Pat for the time he has put into this.

Earliest Orienteering Map

The first two-colour Orienteering map of Ballinastraw was produced by Sean Rothery in 1970

From the archives, the first two-colour Orienteering map of Ballinastraw was produced by Sean Rothery in 1970. This was one of the first colour orienteering maps produced in Ireland.

Diana Large (RIP) produced a black and white map of Cronybyrne in 1975 (we were unable to locate a copy of this map).

Ajax Survey

1975 -1982 Eoin Rothery and his AJAX Team Map of Ballinastraw

Between 1979 and 1982 Eoin Rothery and a survey team of men and women from Ajax Orienteering, Hill Running and Athletic Club set about producing a new 5-colour Orienteering map.

The team that carried out this work was: Carey May, Eoin Rothery, Niall Rice, Philip Thompson, Paddy O’Brien, Greg Slator, Ed Niland (Snr) RIP, Declan O’Callaghan, S. Stapnes, A. Hansen, J. Edstrom, D Tinmannsvik, S. Langaas, John Ryan, and Tara Horan. The map was updated in 1985 by: Déirdre Ní Challanáin, Peter Kernan, Willie McAuliffe, Niall Rice and Eoin Rothery. Eoin Rothery was the cartographer. The Map produced was of International standard at the time.

Part of the Cronybyrne Ballinastraw map used for CISM WM Individual day two on Thursday 21 May 1987

World Military Orienteering Championships 1987

Following the success of this map and with the permission of Ajax, the Defence Forces decided to use this area for Individual Day two of the CISM World Military Orienteering Championships on 21 May 1987. Devil’s Glen was used for Individual Day 1 on Wed 20 May and Glendalough for the Relay on Sat 23 May 1987. Hollywood forest was used for the model event and Trooperstown was the reserve area.

The start of the CISM day two event was near the former Shering Plough pharmaceutical plant just outside Rathdrum on the Road to Laragh. The Finish was located at the Clara Lara Park. In order to access these locations it was necessary to span a 30 metre crossing of the Avonmore river. A wider span was needed before the finish in case of rising river levels.

Two bridge designs were used. A pontoon Bridge was used for the first crossing just after the start. This was a floating bridge constructed using 20 x 2ft x6 ft wooden decking sections pinned together. Pontoons were formed by simply lashing several steel barrels together by rafts of timber. Each connecting place consisted of one or more pontoons that were anchored, using ropes to both the river bed and to the river banks. The runners had to strike the decking midway between the pontoons. A rope handrail was provided to stop people falling into the Avonmore river.

The second bridge before the finish was a more robust affair. Two towers or supports were constructed using gabion cages filled with rock and stones. In case of flooding four (4) 30m trees were felled to form the support beams. Decking was laid on top in order to give a good run to the finish area.

Aerial Photography (1980s)

Based on Photogrammetry, this is a sample of the Ballinastraw fieldwork survey notes carried out by Pat Healy in 1985

In preparation for the World Military Orienteering Championships, in spring 1984 a special air photo flight was flown by the Ordnance Survey. Diapositives (positive photos on film) were produced and Harveys Mapping Service, Scotland, produced the base maps. Pat Healy who was in the Army at the time surveyed all areas between 1984 and 1986. Once the event was over the maps reverted back to the clubs that had the areas registered with the IOA.

1993 Leinster Championships

1993 Leinster Championships M21E
1993 Leinster Championships M21E

In the early 1990s the Cronybyrne Ballinastraw map was updated by Ajax members and was used for the Ajax 1993 Leinster Championships with courses planned by Paddy O’Brien. Here’s a segment of the M21E course in the southern part of the Vale of Clara. Note that the 1993 orienteering map spans the Avonmore river, something the current map does not do.

Minor Update in 2008

In 2008 minor updates were done to the northern part of the Vale of Clara Nature Reserve map by Ajax members and it was used for three Leinster League events in recent years. Here’s a routegadget map of the 2014 DUO Leinster League event, the most recent use of the area for orienteering.

LiDAR (Present Day)

LiDAR of Ballinastraw as used for the 2018 Leinster Championships

Over 30 years after the first aerial survey, in preparation for the 2018 Leinster Orienteering Championships, a new LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) scan of the area was carried out in April 2016. This Geo-Referenced scan captured both the terrain and the Vegetation. LiDAR provides you with the opportunity to make high-quality elevation models of two distinct types: first return and ground. A first return surface includes tree canopy and buildings and is often referred to as a digital surface model (DSM). The ground, or bare earth, contains only the topography and is frequently called a digital elevation model (DEM).

A complete new survey was again carried out in 2017 in order to verify what was produced by LiDAR models.

The map used for this event is a completely new map and is the most detailed and accurate map yet produced of the area. All features are measured and geo-referenced. The terrain has been tested for runability in winter by the course planner and then re-classified by the mapper. Overall the map is an up-to-date representation of the terrain in winter 2017.

If you have something to add to this history then please contact us.