Irish grid reference system

System of geographic grid references used for mapping in Ireland
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  • Geodesy
  • Geodynamics
  • Geomatics
  • History
  • Geographical distance
  • Geoid
  • Figure of the Earth (radius and circumference)
  • Geodetic coordinates
  • Geodetic datum
  • Geodesic
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  • Latitude / Longitude
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Standards (history)
NGVD 29 Sea Level Datum 1929
OSGB36 Ordnance Survey Great Britain 1936
SK-42 Systema Koordinat 1942 goda
ED50 European Datum 1950
SAD69 South American Datum 1969
GRS 80 Geodetic Reference System 1980
ISO 6709 Geographic point coord. 1983
NAD 83 North American Datum 1983
WGS 84 World Geodetic System 1984
NAVD 88 N. American Vertical Datum 1988
ETRS89 European Terrestrial Ref. Sys. 1989
GCJ-02 Chinese obfuscated datum 2002
Geo URI Internet link to a point 2010
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The Irish grid reference system is a system of geographic grid references used for paper mapping in Ireland (both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland).[1] The Irish grid partially overlaps the British grid, and uses a similar co-ordinate system but with a meridian more suited to its westerly location.


In general, neither Ireland nor Great Britain uses latitude or longitude in describing internal geographic locations. Instead grid reference systems are used for mapping.

The national grid referencing system was devised by the Ordnance Survey, and is heavily used in their survey data, and in maps (whether published by the Ordnance Survey of Ireland, the Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland or commercial map producers) based on those surveys. Additionally grid references are commonly quoted in other publications and data sources, such as guide books or government planning documents.

2001 recasting: the ITM grid

In 2001, the Ordnance Survey of Ireland and the Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland jointly implemented a new coordinate system for Ireland called Irish Transverse Mercator, or ITM, a location-specific optimisation of UTM, which runs in parallel with the existing Irish grid system. In both systems, the true origin is at 53° 30' N, 8° W[2] — a point in Lough Ree, close to the western (Co. Roscommon) shore, whose grid reference is N000500. The ITM system was specified so as to provide precise alignment with modern high-precision global positioning receivers.

Grid letters

Irish grid

The area of Ireland is divided into 25 squares, measuring 100 by 100 km (62 by 62 mi), each identified by a single letter. The squares are numbered A to Z with I being omitted. Seven of the squares do not actually cover any land in Ireland: A, E, K, P, U, Y and Z.

Eastings and northings

Within each square, eastings and northings from the origin (south west corner) of the square are given numerically. For example, G0305 means 'square G, 3 km (1.9 mi) east, 5 km (3.1 mi) north'. A location can be indicated to varying resolutions numerically, usually from two digits in each coordinate (for a 1 km (0.62 mi) square) through to five (for a 1 m (3 ft 3 in)) square; the most common usage is the six figure grid reference, employing three digits in each coordinate to determine a 100 m (330 ft) square.

Coordinates may also be given relative to the origin of the entire 500 by 500 km (310 by 310 mi) grid (in the format easting, northing). For example, the location of the Spire of Dublin on O'Connell Street may be given as 315904, 234671 as well as O1590434671. Coordinates in this format must never be truncated, because, for example, 31590, 23467 is also a valid location.

Summary parameters of the Irish Grid coordinate system

Spheroid: Airy Modified,
Datum: 1965,
Map projection: Transverse Mercator
Latitude of Origin: 53°30'00 N
Longitude of Origin: 8°00'00 W
Scale Factor: 1.000 035
False Easting: 200000 m
False Northing: 250000 m


  1. ^ How to Use Map Scales and Grids OSI
  2. ^ "Irish Grid Reference System".


  • Leahy, Derek (September 26, 2008). "Irish Grid Reference System". Ordnance Survey Ireland : 185 years of innovation in mapping. Dublin: Ordnance Survey Ireland. Archived from the original on September 11, 2009. Retrieved 14 August 2009.

External links

  • The Irish Grid - A Description of the Co-ordinate Reference System used in Ireland PDF (358kB) on the Irish Grid from OSi.
  • PDF (221KB) detailing GPS to Irish Grid conversions
  • A detailed (42-page) PDF file including history and map of the Irish grid and its links to Britain
  • A two-page article for the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing summarising the above.
  • History and overview of the system, from OSI
  • OSI online coordinate converter tool
  • Clickable webmap that shows Irish grid references
  • LatLong <> OSi Grid Ref converts & presents in many formats, generates specific links to that location for several useful map web pages - 1840 - present. LatLong WSG84 <> GB, Ireland (inc NI) and Chanel Islands (30U) GR formats recognised. Distance measure for dog-leg routes & area calculations.