On Wednesday I posted some picture showing the results of a Wildfire on the bog lands of Littleton in country Tipperary, having done so I just wanted to share some more images from another Bog land in county Waterford and share some of the history of these amazing places along with some details about the history of turf cutting in Ireland.
The Irish tradition of turf cutting
In the past, Irish people heated their homes and cooked their food using turf taken from from the bog as fuel. Turf was cut from the bog by hand, using a two-sided spade called a sleán. Entire families often helped to save the turf on the bog.
Saving the turf involved turning each sod of turf to ensure the sun and wind could help in the drying process. The turf was then placed upright or ‘footed’ for further drying. Footing the turf was a back-breaking job and involved placing five or six sods of turf upright and leaning against each other. Finally, the turf was brought home and stored in sheds or ricks.
In the midlands and the West of Ireland, the tradition of using turf or peat as fuel has continued in many homes.The turf is mainly cut by machine nowadays, but saving the turf still involves lots of work and requires good weather.
These images are all taken using a Nikon FM2n, loaded with Ilford XP2 Super black and white film. I used a black and white film on the day I visited the wonderful Swanage steam railway project as I felt it was perfect to capture the atmosphere of a 1940’s experience.
Sometimes when your out for the day with a camera, its the experience of finding subjects that’s the most enjoyable part of the day, on this day however it was the enjoyment of taking a trip into the past and enjoying the feeling that you had slipped back into the countryside of the 1940’s, taking these images was just a process of recording the moments.
Here is a small introduction to this great project.
Welcome to Swanage Railway
The Swanage Railway offers a more intensive heritage steam and diesel timetable train service than virtually any other preserved railway.
Steam and diesel galas, Family events plus regular Evening Dining and Sunday Lunch services complement themed events such as our highly popular Santa Special trains during the run up to Christmas.
Our award-winning standard gauge preserved steam railway is located in Dorset with easy access from neighbouring Hampshire and the South of England. Visitors can experience a unique journey through six miles of beautiful scenery passing the magnificent ruins of Corfe Castle, travelling down to the blue flag beach at Swanage.
You can even drive and fire your own steam train thanks to our one-hour footplate taster experiences
Swanage Steam railway a Film Gallery
Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard
By Thomas Gray
The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
The lowing herd wind slowly o’er the lea,
The plowman homeward plods his weary way,
And leaves the world to darkness and to me.
Now fades the glimm’ring landscape on the sight,
And all the air a solemn stillness holds,
Save where the beetle wheels his droning flight,
And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds;
Save that from yonder ivy-mantled tow’r
The moping owl does to the moon complain
Of such, as wand’ring near her secret bow’r,
Molest her ancient solitary reign.
Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree’s shade,
Where heaves the turf in many a mould’ring heap,
Each in his narrow cell for ever laid,
The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep.
The breezy call of incense-breathing Morn,
The swallow twitt’ring from the straw-built shed,
The cock’s shrill clarion, or the echoing horn,
No more shall rouse them from their lowly bed.
For them no more the blazing hearth shall burn,
Or busy housewife ply her evening care:
No children run to lisp their sire’s return,
Or climb his knees the envied kiss to share.
Oft did the harvest to their sickle yield,
Their furrow oft the stubborn glebe has broke;
How jocund did they drive their team afield!
How bow’d the woods beneath their sturdy stroke!
Let not Ambition mock their useful toil,
Their homely joys, and destiny obscure;
Nor Grandeur hear with a disdainful smile
The short and simple annals of the poor.
The boast of heraldry, the pomp of pow’r,
And all that beauty, all that wealth e’er gave,
Awaits alike th’ inevitable hour.
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.
Nor you, ye proud, impute to these the fault,
If Mem’ry o’er their tomb no trophies raise,
Where thro’ the long-drawn aisle and fretted vault
The pealing anthem swells the note of praise.
Can storied urn or animated bust
Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath?
Can Honour’s voice provoke the silent dust,
Or Flatt’ry soothe the dull cold ear of Death?
Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid
Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire;
Hands, that the rod of empire might have sway’d,
Or wak’d to ecstasy the living lyre.
But Knowledge to their eyes her ample page
Rich with the spoils of time did ne’er unroll;
Chill Penury repress’d their noble rage,
And froze the genial current of the soul.
Full many a gem of purest ray serene,
The dark unfathom’d caves of ocean bear:
Full many a flow’r is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.
Some village-Hampden, that with dauntless breast
The little tyrant of his fields withstood;
Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest,
Some Cromwell guiltless of his country’s blood.
Th’ applause of list’ning senates to command,
The threats of pain and ruin to despise,
To scatter plenty o’er a smiling land,
And read their hist’ry in a nation’s eyes,
Their lot forbade: nor circumscrib’d alone
Their growing virtues, but their crimes confin’d;
Forbade to wade through slaughter to a throne,
And shut the gates of mercy on mankind,
The struggling pangs of conscious truth to hide,
To quench the blushes of ingenuous shame,
Or heap the shrine of Luxury and Pride
With incense kindled at the Muse’s flame.
Far from the madding crowd’s ignoble strife,
Their sober wishes never learn’d to stray;
Along the cool sequester’d vale of life
They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.
Yet ev’n these bones from insult to protect,
Some frail memorial still erected nigh,
With uncouth rhymes and shapeless sculpture deck’d,
Implores the passing tribute of a sigh.
Their name, their years, spelt by th’ unletter’d muse,
The place of fame and elegy supply:
And many a holy text around she strews,
That teach the rustic moralist to die.
For who to dumb Forgetfulness a prey,
This pleasing anxious being e’er resign’d,
Left the warm precincts of the cheerful day,
Nor cast one longing, ling’ring look behind?
On some fond breast the parting soul relies,
Some pious drops the closing eye requires;
Ev’n from the tomb the voice of Nature cries,
Ev’n in our ashes live their wonted fires.
For thee, who mindful of th’ unhonour’d Dead
Dost in these lines their artless tale relate;
If chance, by lonely contemplation led,
Some kindred spirit shall inquire thy fate,
Haply some hoary-headed swain may say,
“Oft have we seen him at the peep of dawn
Brushing with hasty steps the dews away
To meet the sun upon the upland lawn.
“There at the foot of yonder nodding beech
That wreathes its old fantastic roots so high,
His listless length at noontide would he stretch,
And pore upon the brook that babbles by.
“Hard by yon wood, now smiling as in scorn,
Mutt’ring his wayward fancies he would rove,
Now drooping, woeful wan, like one forlorn,
Or craz’d with care, or cross’d in hopeless love.
“One morn I miss’d him on the custom’d hill,
Along the heath and near his fav’rite tree;
Another came; nor yet beside the rill,
Nor up the lawn, nor at the wood was he;
“The next with dirges due in sad array
Slow thro’ the church-way path we saw him borne.
Approach and read (for thou canst read) the lay,
Grav’d on the stone beneath yon aged thorn.”
The Hell Fire Club on Mount Pelier Hill
William Conolly’s Hunting Lodge
The building now known as the Hell Fire Club was built around 1725 as a hunting lodge by William Conolly, the Speaker of the Irish House of Commons. It was named Mount Pelier by Conolly but over the years has also been known as “The Haunted House”, “The Shooting Lodge”, “The Kennel”, and “Conolly’s Folly”. It was one of several exclusive establishments using the name Hellfire Club that existed in Britain and Ireland in the 18th century.
While the building has a rough appearance today, the architecture is of a Palladian design. The upper floor consists of a hall and two reception rooms. On the eastern side, there was a third, timber-floored, level where the sleeping quarters were located. On the ground floor is a kitchen, servants’ quarters and stairs to the upper floors. The entrance, which is on the upper floor, was reached by a long flight of stairs which is now missing. At each side of the building is a room with a lean-to roof which may have been used to stable horses. A stone mounting block to assist people onto their horses can be seen on the eastern side. To the front there was a semi-circular courtyard, enclosed by a low stone wall and entered by a gate.
The house faces to the north, looking over Dublin and the plains of Meath and Kildare, including Conolly’s primary residence at Castletown House in Celbridge. The grounds around the lodge consisted of a 1,000-acre (4.0 km2; 1.6 sq mi) deer park. The identity of the architect is unknown: the author Michael Fewer has suggested it may have been Edward Lovett Pearce (1699–1733) who was employed by Conolly to carry out works at Castletown in 1724.
There was a prehistoric burial site at the summit of Mount Pelier Hill and stones from it were used in the construction of the lodge. A nearby standing stone was also used for the lintel over the fireplace. Shortly after its completion, a great storm blew the original slate roof off. Local superstition held that this was the work of the Devil, an act of revenge for disturbing the ancient cairn. Conolly had the roof replaced with an arched stone roof constructed in a similar fashion to that of a bridge. This roof has remained intact to the present day, even though the building has been abandoned for over two centuries and despite the roof being set alight with tar barrels during the visit of Queen Victoria to Ireland in 1849. There is little evidence that the lodge was put to much use. Conolly himself died in 1729.
Dating from the Early Neolithic period (4000-3000 BC), Brownshill dolmen in Co. Carlow is one of the most impressive megalithic monuments in Ireland. The capstone is truly massive and has to be seen in person to be really appreciated. It is estimated to weigh in excess of 150 tonnes and is believed to be one of the heaviest capstones in Europe. It is still not certain how it was raised up, but it may have involved a combination of wooden rollers, ropes and man/animal power, aided by ramps of earth or stone.
The Brownshill dolmen is classified as a portal tomb by archaeologists and there are approximately 174 of these monuments in the country. The tombs generally consist of two large portal-stones defining the entrance and a back-stone, all of which support the cap-stone. Although Brownshill has never been excavated, finds are known from other portal tombs. These include burnt and unburnt human bone, pottery and flint artefacts as well as personal items such as bone pins and beads.
One of the very few portal tombs that has been investigated by archaeologists is Poulnabrone in Co. Clare (Lynch 2014). At this site the remains of twenty two people were uncovered inside the tomb, including sixteen adults and six children. Of these bodies only eight could be sexed and these were equally split between males and females. The bones were found in a largely disarticulated state and this suggests that the human remains had undergone a complex burial ritual. It appears that the dead were initially placed in the tomb as complete bodies and allowed to decompose. Then at a later date certain body parts were removed, in particular the skulls and long bones. The reasoning behind this is uncertain, although it may have been related to some form of ancestor worship, where the dead, via their skeletal remains, continued to play a role in the daily lives of their descendants.
A truly ancient monument, Brownshill portal tomb is located just outside the town of Carlow and is easily accessible, with a small car park present and path leading up to the monument. If you are ever in the area you should definitely visit!
I felt this poem by Andrew Voigt matched this great location on the yorkshire moors very well !
Here I Am Still Breathing
A Poem For The Brokenhearted
The night is dark and I’m alone
Searching for a place called home
Silence rings within my ears
Fear and pain flood my tears
Hope feels far, isolation nears
What if God isn’t really there?
Well, maybe I simply fail at dreams
A hollow chord with broken strings
Stars go black, night turns grey
Light is gone, far from day
Will the sun rise once again?
A distant dream, a long-lost friend?
Maybe I simply can’t understand
A single word of this master plan
It hurts like hell, my spirit screams
Life in the land of broken dreams
I sit back down to concentrate
Reminded of the things I hate
Depression, fear, regrets of time
Desiring just to press rewind
Yet, here I am still breathing
This heartbeat song unending
This life is still worth living
This life is still worth living
I pick myself up off the floor
Remnants of the mask I’ve worn
Face the mirror while it stares back
Accepting all the things I lack
Reflections often mirror shame
Yet, tonight they simply aren’t the same
Within the tears upon my face
A light reflects in a darkened space
Could it be the day awakes?
The winter gone, new hopes to chase?
Well, maybe I’m just seeing things
Like a blind man lost in the midnight sea
But what if hope still remains?
And what if love is not in vain?
Could there be a God of love?
Who walked this earth and gave his blood?
My head is spinning within these thoughts
Could God really care for souls so lost?
We turned our backs and swore His name
Yet, still He loves us in our shame
Yes, here I am still breathing
This heartbeat song unending
This life is still worth living
This life is still worth living
Andrew Voigt is a writer and blogger discussing thoughts on God, dreams, and brokenness. He has served as a contributing writer for publications such as Patheos, Fathom Magazine, and Kingdom Spark. Andrew holds a B.S. in Communication Studies from Liberty University and lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife and orange cat named Pumpkin.
James K. Baxter (1926-1972)
On the road to the bay was a lake of rushes
Where we bathed at times and changed in the bamboos.
Now it is rather to stand and say
How many roads we take that lead to Nowhere,
The alley overgrown, no meaning now but loss:
Not that veritable garden where everything comes easy.
And by the bay itself were cliffs with carved names
And a hut on the shore by the open fires.
We raced boats from the banks of the river
Or swam in those autumnal shallows.
Growing cold in amber water, riding the logs
Upstream, and waiting for the Sea Monsters.
So now I remember the bay and the little spiders
On driftwood, so poisonous and quick.
The carved cliffs and the great out crying surf
With currents round the rocks and the birds rising.
A thousand times an hour is torn across
And burned for the sake of going on living.
But I remember the bay that never was
And stand like stone and cannot turn away.
The last few one hour sketches I have worked on, I worked in pencil and ink but yesterday I went back to pencil only, using a B, 2B and 5B pencil. The location was a great little church and graveyard in the towns lands of Whitechurch on the south Kilkenny boarder.
I really loved working with ink but wanted to get back to pencil, although the direction I feel that my drawing is going in I am working with mainly line and shapes so there is little difference as yet. With pencil however I like the fact that I can get more tone using different grades of graphite.
I feel the main things I learn during this drawing were, how much to actually include in the drawing from the view in front of me, how I feel I want to represent different organic items such a ivy and trees along with grass and weeds! I feel I got the size of the two grave stone over very well…
I feel happy with the finished sketch, feeling that overall I got across well using the medium the view that was in front of myself. The worked flowed very well with no need to stop during working yet I got a good sense of when to finally stop working and be happy that the drawing told the full story!