The Map Wall

Artist Name(s) Mark Joyce
Artwork title The Map Wall
Context/Background Barnesmore Gap is an area of outstanding natural beauty which cuts through the Bluestack Mountains in the heart of Donegal. It is an important stretch of, newly upgraded, road, providing vital transportation and communications link for locals and visitors alike. In 1828, the Ordnance Survey of Ireland began the first ever survey of the entire country of Ireland. During the orthographic (placenames) survey of Donegal in the Autumn of 1893, John O’ Donovan walked the county from Inisowen at the northern tip, to Donegal Town. Consulting with native Irish speakers, O’Donovan devised the current spellings of placenames in the county. During his three-month survey of Donegal placenames, he wrote regularly to Ordnance Headquarters. These letters are rich in descriptions of the life and topography of the country before the famine. His letter concerning Barnesmore Gap, written in October 1835 is faithfully reproduced on this artwork wall as are all of the original and Gaelic names of the town lands of the county.

The Map Wall (2003) is a vertical, duel-sided structure, consisting of eight panels mounted on either side of a supporting wall which is made from reinforced concrete.

The stone panels are made from Mountcharles Granite, and measure 184cm x 100cm each, with the artwork’s overall dimensions being 369cm x 400cm. The artwork is sited next to a amenity and car-parking area on the roadside so as visitors can view the work close-up and at their leisure.

Side 1: Sandblasted map of Donegal in relief, including all vernacular placenames, roads, rivers, lakes and islands.

Side 2: A sandblasted copy of John O’ Donovan’s letter to the Ordnance Survey, 8 October 1835.


Mark Joyce was born in Dublin Ireland in 1966. He studied painting at the National College of Art and Design, Dublin and the Royal College of Art, London. He has exhibited in most of the major selected survey exhibitions in Ireland and the UK and has had Solo Exhibitions in Ireland, UK and the USA. His work is in the collections of the Irish Museum of Modern Art, and the Arts Council of Ireland.

Formerly a Fine Art lecturer in IADT, and represented by the Kerlin Gallery, Dublin, he is currently Professor of Visual Arts at Yale-National University of Singapore.

Commission Type Local Authority,Other state agency
Commissioner Name Donegal Co. Council
Commissioning process Curated two-stage competition.
Partners Traolach O Fioannan, Donegal Co Council Arts Officer Aisling Prior for Artworking Ltd. The National Roads Authority
Artform Visual Arts
Funded By Donegal County Council
Percent for art Yes
Budget Range 35000 - 70000 euro
Location White Goat Island Amenity Area, Barnesmore Gap, between Donegal Town and Ballbofey. 
County Donegal
Town Barnesmore Gap,
Content contributor(s) Web Editor
Associated professionals / Specialists involved

Carton Le Vert Design, Rathmullen - Font design and digital map work

Michael McGroarty Stonemasons, Mountcharles - Sandblasting and installation



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