Today, June 16th, is Bloomsday – a celebration of James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’ which is set in the Dublin of 1904.  In the novel Leopold Bloom muses that “a good puzzle would be to cross Dublin without passing a pub”  The puzzle might be easier to solve these days, as there are many fewer pubs in our city, but has anyone actually tried to solve it?

One possibilty might be to use data from ‘OpenStreetMap’ (OSM) which has most of the streets and many of the pubs in Dublin already recorded.  Unfortunately the data is incomplete – and this is where I’m asking for help.

On Bloomsday (or any other day..) can you check the map of Dublin (here: and see if you know any pubs which are missing from the map.  Look for the Pint Glass icon - 

An initial attempt to solve the puzzle will focus on the area inside the Royal and Grand canals, which mark the extent of the inner-city area.  But adding pubs for other parts of Dublin (or anywhere else, of course) will help improve the quality of the map.

So, how do you go about adding a pub to the map?

The process is quite simple, zoom to an area you are familiar with and then click on the ‘Edit’ tab.

You will be asked to create an account. Once you’ve done that and activated it you will be able to log in and use the basic OSM editor (it’s called Potlatch)

The opening dialog box asks you if you want to “Edit with Save” or ‘Edit Live” – Choose the “Edit with Save” option.  And that’s it – you’re ready to add information to the map.

Potlatch handily provides a number of ready made ‘Points of Interest’ including Pubs at the bottom of the screen.  To add a pub to the map simply click on the icon and drag it to where the pub is located.  You will then be asked to provide the pub’s name. You can add other information, such as a website etc. if you know them.

Then click on ‘Save’ in the bottom right, optionally provide a description of your changes, and you’re done. It’s really that simple. It might take a short while for your edit to show up – there are thousands of people making edits to the map at any one time and the update process requires a bit of computer processing.

Of course if you have any other edits you can do them too – perhaps a street name is missing or misspelled, or that post-box is no longer there. Fix the map, and make it better for everybody.

Perhaps we should update Bloom’s musing for 21st century Dublin: “… to cross Dublin without passing a Spar…” (The icon for convenience stores are in Potlatch’s bottom bar too…)

Important note: Please respect copyright – don’t copy information from other mapping providers (Google, Yahoo, Ordnance Survey etc.)

You can find out more about OpenStreetMap here:


UPDATE: June 15 2011. It turns out that someone has done the analysis, using OpenStreetMap data and has determined that it is indeed possible to cross the city (from canal to canal) without passing a pub.  You can read how it was done and see the route here:

Now, is it possible to cross Dublin without passing a Spar?