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.
Irish Landscape Photography : Slievenamon Bog, County Tipperary, The Bog Lands a Poem By : William A. Byrne
The Bog Lands
By William A. Byrne
THE purple heather is the cloak
God gave the bogland brown,
But man has made a pall o’ smoke
To hide the distant town.
Our lights are long and rich in change,
Unscreened by hill or spire,
From primrose dawn, a lovely range,
To sunset’s farewell fire.
No morning bells have we to wake
Us with their monotone,
But windy calls of quail and crake
Unto our beds are blown.
The lark’s wild flourish summons us
To work before the sun;
At eve the heart’s lone Angelus
Blesses our labour done.
We cleave the sodden, shelving bank
In sunshine and in rain,
That men by winter-fires may thank
The wielders of the slane.
Our lot is laid beyond the crime
That sullies idle hands;
So hear we through the silent time
God speaking sweet commands.
Brave joys we have and calm delight—
For which tired wealth may sigh—
The freedom of the fields of light,
The gladness of the sky.
And we have music, oh, so quaint!
The curlew and the plover,
To tease the mind with pipings faint
No memory can recover;
The reeds that pine about the pools
In wind and windless weather;
The bees that have no singing-rules
Except to buzz together.
And prayer is here to give us sight
To see the purest ends;
Each evening through the brown-turf light
The Rosary ascends.
And all night long the cricket sings
The drowsy minutes fall,—
The only pendulum that swings
Across the crannied wall.
Then we have rest, so sweet, so good,
The quiet rest you crave;
The long, deep bogland solitude
That fits a forest’s grave;
The long, strange stillness, wide and deep,
Beneath God’s loving hand,
Where, wondering at the grace of sleep,
The Guardian Angels stand.
BOG COTTON ON THE RED BOG
A Poem by
CHARLOTTE GRACE O’BRIEN (1845 –1909)
Foynes in June 1895
“ O STRONG-WINGED birds from over the moorland dark,
On this June day what have you seen?
Where have you been? ”
Where, oh! where
The golden yellow asphodel makes its boggy home,
And far and near, Spreading in broad bands of silvery silky foam
O’er the moorland drear, The slender stemmed bog cotton bends in waves of light,
Shaking out its shining tufts for its own delight,There, oh! there We have been.
“O sweet sky piercing, heaven mounting lark,
On this June day what have you seen?”
I have seen—I have seen
The dark red bog and the king fern green,
And the black
black pools lying dim between,–
The baby heather that blossoms so soon
In the splendid heat that comes after June–
Charlotte Grace O’Brien
was born in County Limerick, the daughter of
William Smith O’Brien who was a Conservative Member of Parliament for County Limerick; she championed the cause for better conditions for those emigrating to America.
Bog cotton on the red bog, images Gallery