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.
On summer Hill
John K Trainer
The fragrance of a memory
From childhood long ago
I’m brought back
To a fenced in back yard
Crayola blue sky
Burnt umber ground
Islands of green and yellow grass
The scent of Summer Hill wafts
As the unseen is revealed
A dream remembered then forgotten
You say it didn’t happen
I recollect the aroma that says it did
The six week long heatwave that we are experiencing here in Ireland during June and July has brought with it some of the best summer weather many can remember, yet it has also at this stage created water shortages and with the ground being so dry we have also had many forest wild fires along with fires on the open bog lands.
I enjoyed capturing these pictures a lot! as the atmosphere on the bog was amazing, the smell of smoke and the cracking of still burning small fires, with dead wood smoking all around me, nothing but deep ash on the surface.
I took these pictures this morning, they show the results of a large wild fire on the bog lands at littleton, county tipperary. Most of the trees and heather have all been burnt, these fires are mostly just on the surface and when we see the return of some rain the environment will recover very quickly. The question is just when will we see our usual Irish summer return , with its rains at least once or twice a week ?
Capturing Ireland’s heatwave, July 10th 2018, The River Runs Dry, taken from a Poem by : Veronica Ellen
The River Runs Dry
The river runs dry from mouth to stream
No rain from the sky, and all the land screams-
For nourishment, to save the dying crop
But God has no mercy and all the crops rot.
The heat strikes the fury, arouses the flame, sets the fire
Burns down the struggling trees, wealth an unrealized by flame.
burning bushes, so often unseen.
Weakens our roots, and their spirit is broken
Will it never rain again? , so many are hoping.
Ireland’s is currently in heat wave conditions with no big change on the horizon, so today I headed out for a walk and started to capture our local landscape in these conditions. Here in County Kilkenny we have not been affected quite as badly yet as in county Dublin but as you can see from these images the hedgerows and fields are starting to turn to a light brown and some of the trees are only just hanging on.
Summer Poems : Haymaking
By Edward Thomas
Aftear night’s thunder far away had rolled
The fiery day had a kernel sweet of cold,
And in the perfect blue the clouds uncurled,
Like the first gods before they made the world
And misery, swimming the stormless sea
In beauty and in divine gaiety.
The smooth white empty road was lightly strewn
With leaves—the holly’s Autumn falls in June—
And fir cones standing stiff up in the heat.
The mill-foot water tumbled white and lit
With tossing crystals, happier than any crowd
Of children pouring out of school aloud.
And in the little thickets where a sleeper
For ever might lie lost, the nettle-creeper
And garden warbler sang unceasingly;
While over them shrill shrieked in his fierce glee
The swift with wings and tail as sharp and narrow
As if the bow had flown off with the arrow.
Only the scent of woodbine and hay new-mown
Travelled the road. In the field sloping down,
Park-like, to where its willows showed the brook,
Haymakers rested. The tosser lay forsook
Out in the sun; and the long waggon stood
Without its team, it seemed it never would
Move from the shadow of that single yew.
The team, as still, until their task was due,
Beside the labourers enjoyed the shade
That three squat oaks mid-field together made
Upon a circle of grass and weed uncut,
And on the hollow, once a chalk-pit, but
Now brimmed with nut and elder-flower so clean.
The men leaned on their rakes, about to begin,
But still. And all were silent. All was old,
This morning time, with a great age untold,
Older than Clare and Cobbett, Morland and Crome,
Than, at the field’s far edge, the farmer’s home,
A white house crouched at the foot of a great tree.
Under the heavens that know not what years be
The men, the beasts, the trees, the implements
Uttered even what they will in times far hence—
All of us gone out of the reach of change—
Immortal in a picture of an old grange.
As the name implies the Meeting of the waters is where Killarney’s famous lakes converge. The Upper lake, Middle Lake (also known as Muckross Lake) and Lower Lake (Lough Leane) all come together at this beautiful spot. It is a little haven of tranquility and can only be reached by foot or bicycle. Also found in this area are Dinis cottage and “The Old Weir Bridge”.
The easiest way to reach the spot is by walking along the well signposted path from Muckross House for approximately 5km or if you don’t feel that energetic then approx one mile beyond Torc Waterfall (direction Kenmare) there is a parking spot on the right hand side of the road. Dinis cottage is signposted from here and the cottage and “the meetings of the waters” is a 15 minute walk from here. Its definitely worth the walk on a fine day.
Bagenalstown, county Carlow
One of my most loved small towns located along the river Barrow as it flows through county Carlow is Bagenalstown, it is located of the side of the hills that surround the river barrow south of Carlow town. Otherwise known in its Gaelic version as Muine Bheag it is a pleasant stretch of the River Barrow and derives its name from Walter Bagenal, who, in founding the town, had visions of mirroring the city of Versailles, in northern France.
However, his efforts became frustrated due to the re-routing of the coach road away from the town. He left more than enough for visitors to enjoy with handsome stone public buildings including the impressive Courthouse, now a public library in Bagenalstown.
The arrival of the railway in 1846 rejuvenated the town, and its neo-classical railway station is one of the finest in Ireland. Attributed to William Deane Butler it is constructed of limestone and granite and is a seven bay, two-storey building in an Italianate villa style. Today Bagenalstown station still retains its charm in a largely unaltered state. This former mill town made full use of the river Barrow to transport grain, beet, coal, turf and Guinness by barge, evidence of which can be seen in its fine industrial architecture. Near the railway bridge on the R705 Borris road is an example of the Carlow fence which consists of a decorative fence made of granite pieces, laid horizontally over vertical posts and is found nowhere else in the world.
One of the finest views of Bagenalstown may be enjoyed on the approach road from Leighlinbridge and includes the spire of St. Andrew’s Catholic Church and the fine tower of St. Mary’s Church of Ireland Church. St. Andrew’s Catholic Church was built in 1820 on a site provided by the Newton family, successors to the Bagenals. The stained glass behind the altar is worthy of particular attention. Nowadays, riverside walks, picnic tables and a picturesque lock enhance this fine town which has been twinned with the French town of Pont Pean since 1999.
ATTRACTIONS: The ruins of the early 14th century Ballymoon Castle and 13th century Ballyloughan Castle are located near the town. Wells Church, situated closeby, is the preserved ruin of a church dating back to 1262. The church is surrounded by an enclosed and well-maintained graveyard which is still in use today.
ACTIVITIES: Outdoor swimming pool. The McGrath complex offers excellent sporting facilities including cricket, hurling, soccer and Gaelic football fields, tennis court and pitch and putt courses. The River Barrow in this area is renowned for coarse fishing with wheelchair friendly fishing stands located near the swimming pool. The Barrow Way long distance walking route passes through the town.