Storymap – An Interactive App that Helps You Explore Dublin City

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Image courtesy of Storymap

Storymap is an app unique to Dublin, which allows you to explore the city as you walk through it, or from the comfort of your own home. The app and website contain a compilation of endearing, informative and amusing stories told by Dubliners themselves. The stories are told and filmed where they took place, and you don’t have to walk far in the city centre to be at the scene of a Storymap tale. Its two creators, Tom Rowley and Andy Flaherty, are both Dubliners who studied Film Studies and English in Trinity College.

On the Storymap website Tom describes the app,

“…like one big pub where everyone shares their stories, creating a sense of what the city means to Dubliners. It’s a simple idea, but with complex possibilities, and we’re only just at the beginning of it.”

Because Dublin currently has Storymap all to itself, I caught up with it’s other creator, Andy, to find out more.

Image courtesy of Storymap

What gave you the idea of starting Storymap?

Myself and Tom were just back in the country, We returned at the height of the recession, we were unemployed, in between film projects and we were getting really annoyed with all the negative press the city was receiving. The bleak tales of recession, the gloomy accounts of unemployment and the notion that Ireland’s best and brightest had emigrated. This wasn’t the Dublin we were experiencing. We were excited to be home and even though we were broke, we were really enjoying the flourishing art scene that had been somewhat pushed aside during the boom. 

We wanted to do something to get people as excited about the city as we were. While loads of great people have left the country, you only have to walk into any gallery, gig or any of the fantastic spoken word or comedy nights to see that Dublin is a ridiculously fun and vibrant city with wonderful characters and an amazing art scene. We wanted to bring that charm and character to a wider audience and figured a really nice and easy way to do it was through stories. So we came up with the idea for Storymap, and it’s been ridiculously fun ever since. I’ve heard so many stories about Dublin, learnt so much about my city and met so many wonderful people. It’s really been an amazing project to work on. 

How do you source your stories and the people who tell them? 

Sourcing stories is the best part about working on Storymap. It’s not as hard as people think either, we have a couple of different ways we source stories, we do a bit of research on stuff that interests the two of us, utilising blogs like Come Here to Me Now! and History Ireland. We attend loads of different cultural events and see if any of the performers interest us.

What are some of your favourite stories from around Dublin?

There’s so many amazing stories, but my favourite stories are always the personal ones, people like Maureen Grant, Gerry Cowen, Tom Matthews, The Brothers O’Neill, Filippo Fusco or Bernie O’Shea – they always make me laugh. I also really like the story Shane Langan gave us about Lawrence Downey, ‘The Holy Hijacker’, who hi-jacked an Aer Lingus flight to London to try and get the Pope to make public The Third Secret of Fatima… and Conor O’Toole’s bizarre true story of how Dublin was saved from the brink of starvation by the most unlikely of foodstuffs. 

What has the reaction to Storymap been like?

People seem to really like the app, we’ve got loads of really nice emails and comments from Dubliners and tourists who’ve been using the app to explore the city. When we started Storymap we always thought it would make a good app, a really fun way to learn about the city, so it’s always really nice to hear that people are using and enjoying it.

How many people have downloaded the app?

Just under 10,000 which is really amazing when I think about it.

Are you looking to expand further?

We’ve built the Storymap platform so it can be moved to any city in the world without any hassle, so if anyone would like to set one up in their city they can have the app and website for free, they just need to contact us and then go out and find some stories.We’d love to see people set up their own Storymaps around the world, and have it as a tool to explore different cities. We also have a few more ideas we’d like to do in the future. But for now we’re focusing on a few different projects away from Storymap. So unfortunately we haven’t been able to focus as much time on Storymap as we used to but we still have loads of really good stories to release and a few nice surprises in store so watch this space.

Anything about the app or Dublin itself you’d like to add? 

Yeah, go out and support local artists – Dublin is amazing at the minute. There is so many fantastic nights on in town, from spoken word to comedy to live music. Nights such as The Brown Bread Mix Tape, NightHawks, The Weekly General Meeting, The Monday Echo, The Firehouse Film contest and loads more. Go check them out and see for yourself just how good the art scene in Dublin is.  

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