The Days in the Bog are Numbered

 In History

By 2030 the turf machines will no longer harvest turf or peat to burn in power generating plants so the news tells us. Turf was important during the war the Turf Board was established as a semi state during the 1930’s and later renamed Bord na Mona in 1946. Turf was the main form of fuel during the second world war because of the coal shortages. Jim Kilroy, TD suggested that Bellacorrick be explored with a view to opening a power generating plant there and this became a reality in May 1963.

The bog or rather the day in the bog is fast becoming a thing of the past. It was one an integral part of the Irish way of life. It was a regular feature on the Primary School curriculum for composition writing.

May was the start of the year in the bog. The bank top was cleaned or scrawed off and prepared for cutting into the moist soft top. The slean was the turf spade, slean is the Irish word for spade and then the cutting commenced – either one man or few so many sods across and so many down. The cutter would work at his own pace in a steady rhythm.

The men. Women and children spread the turf evenly out on the bog. This was for It to dry. When they were doing this another person would be given the task of lighting the fire and putting the sweet can on to boil the water and boil the eggs. The tea on the bog had an unforgettable taste as had the boiled eggs and soda bread.

The families would meet at tea time for a chat. There was a social dimension to the bog too as there was to most events then. Each family had its own bank in close proximity to the other.

As the weeks went by the turf dried on one side and was footed – four soda standing up together and one on top- good work for the back. Then it was put in ruckles another Irish word or clamps to dry out fully before it was put out on the road side in order to bring it home and put it in the stack.

The stack on the road side was built in a particular way to keep put the rain. The turf was brought there using donkey and cart or horse and cart.   This took a few days. Not all of the turf was for domestic use – some of it was sold in Ballina for extra income. The local schoolmaster would then tell the people to bring a cart load of turf to the school to heat it for the year and each child was required to bring a sod or two to school each day for the fire.

The bog ended in late Summer early autumn and the hay would be taking place around the same time so there was little time for idle thoughts in those bygone days. One thing for sure you were always tired and weary after a day in the bog but alas many of them are cut away and that era is no more and the day of the slean is gone too.

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