Proposal:Mass rock

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mass rock
Proposal status: Approved (active)
Proposed by: b-unicycling
Tagging: was:place_of_worship=mass_rock
Applies to: node
Definition: A mass rock is a rock where (Catholic) mass was said during Penal times in Ireland and which was usually used as an altar.

Rendered as: Cross in the brown shade used for historical sites instead of black
Draft started: 2021-04-01
RFC start: 2021-04-02
Vote start: 2021-04-16
Vote end: 2021-04-30


It is proposed to create a set of tags for a node to map verifiable locations of mass rocks which are historic places of worship in Ireland. A combination of marking the rock/ stone and was:place_of_worship=mass_rock seems useful, and the historic tag can be added, but not necessarily essential. If mass is still (or again) said at the rock, a combination of amenity=place_of_worship and place_of_worship=mass_rock is preferred.


Mass rocks are part of Irish heritage from the two centuries when Catholicism was suppressed by means of Penal Laws. Some of them have been mapped using various tags with "Mass Rock" (overpass query) in the name=* tag in combination with or without place_of_worship. They are sometimes referred to in field names or other placenames using the Irish "aifrinn" to refer to mass (see below). Mass paths (which also don't have a tag yet) often lead to them. Sometimes, a place_of_worship=holy_well and/ or a historic=memorial can be found nearby.

During the COVID pandemic of 2019-2021, some mass rocks were used as an alternative to churches which were kept closed as a precaution.


Add a node with the following tags:

tag explanation
natural=rock/ natural=bare_rock/ natural=stone Whichever applies, please read their respective descriptions, when in doubt.
was:place_of_worship=mass_rock OR place_of_worship=mass_rock Depending whether mass is still (or again) said here.
religion=christian + denomination=roman_catholic clear marking of Catholic association
historic=yes if this location is of special historical significance for the area

Additional tags for features often occurring in the vicinity

In cases where it applies these tags can be added to the surrounding area as well.

Tag Explanation
tourism=information + information=* for the information sign dedicated to the mass rock
place_of_worship=holy_well if there is a holy well nearby



The cross used for christian places of worship, but brown like the historic site icons.

Features/Pages affected


(amenity=place of worship)

External discussions


Please comment on the discussion page.


Voting closed

Voting on this proposal has been closed.

It was approved with 11 votes for, 1 vote against and 1 abstention.

  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. These are part of Ireland's heritage and continue to be maintained as features by local communities across Ireland. --Dónal (talk) 10:32, 16 April 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --Dieterdreist (talk) 10:35, 16 April 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. Mass Rocks are of historical, cultural and touristic importance in Ireland, and need to be mapped properly. --Florent Ch (talk) 10:59, 16 April 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. Although people outside Ireland might not have this, this is a well known of thing in Ireland. OSM is not just a base map of roads for a social media giant to use, but a way for us to record our shared history & heritage --Rorym (talk) 11:02, 16 April 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --Brian de Ford (talk) 11:07, 16 April 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --ConorCastlehaven (talk) 11:26, 16 April 2021 (UTC) these are a really important places, in particular in many rural areas - not just for the religious but they are also culturally significant.
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. OPTIONAL MESSAGE HERE --DeB1gC (talk) 08:58, 17 April 2021 (UTC) The use of mass rocks by the Roman Catholic population of the island lasted from 1695 to 1829 when around the time of slavery was being abolished the penal laws were finally reformed. Considering that people generally clung to this faith, no churches could be built, and the mass rocks were ubiquitous (but secretive) this part of the history of the island has to be recorded spatially, and the tag may be of use to other parts of the world where sectarian oppression has happened or is happening.
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --Riiga (talk) 16:58, 17 April 2021 (UTC)
  • I abstain from voting but have comments I have comments but abstain from voting on this proposal. I missed the holy_well voting so it would be unfair to vote against this one. However, I think that proliferance of place_of_worship subtags is unproductive and amounts to microtagging. For all intents and purposes, combination of natural=rock (or whathaveyou, such as natural=well) in combination with amenity=place_of_worship and appropriate religion=* is sufficient to describe this kind of places. --Duja (talk) 21:25, 20 April 2021 (UTC)
I see your point, but I have nothing against microtagging either. B-unicycling (talk) 21:51, 20 April 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --Tadcan (talk) 22:33, 21 April 2021 (UTC) Mass Rocks are a significant part of the Ireland's history during a time of religious persecution and restricted rights for worshipers.
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --SherbetS (talk) 16:01, 23 April 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. Eduaddad (talk) 02:45, 26 April 2021 (UTC)
  • I oppose this proposal I oppose this proposal. Same reasons as I opposed the holy_well proposal. Other religions and other regions might have the same or similar usage. Global proposals or guidelines should be usable and described as globally usable and applicable by using religion=* and amenity=place_of_worship. I am not against mapping these when they are verifiable and in current use or verifiable as heritage sites. The proposed tagging schemes and neutrality in regard to religion and region is not properly addressed. --Bert Araali (talk) 01:03, 27 April 2021 (UTC)