As we have been lucky enough to avoid the recent inclement weather that seems to have befallen the rest of Europe, it seemed a shame to waste the lovely mild weekends we’ve been having. So off we went on our family rambles again. This time to the wilds of the local Bog!!
This bog is still worked for turf so there are markings in the ground and sods left over from last year lying around. A great number of country people still burn turf to heat their homes. Turf in one form or another is still Ireland’s prime source of fuel for fireplace/cooking/electricity generation, etc. The range is still a big part of the Irish country kitchen.
It is used for cooking and also heats not only the kitchen but radiators all over the house. The fire can be kept alight for decades…. literally! Ashes are added on top at night. This keeps the embers hot. Then in the morning the ashes are removed and fresh turf added and before long a good hot fire is burning again.
The wet sods are then spread out using a turf-fork. After a few days the sods are moved to dry ground and built into small stacks, by standing three or four sods up on their ends against each other. This is called footing the turf.
The stacks are left to dry throughout the summer months in the sun and wind. When the sods are dry they are transported to the home and stacked in sheds or built into a large pile and covered. A week turf cutting would provide enough fuel to last the year. It’s a family occasion and everyone helps out.
At this time of year all is quiet up here. You might meet the occasional dog walker or jogger. But the work won’t begin again until late spring. Before we knew it we had put a couple of miles behind us. The air is balmy and you can almost taste the ‘healthiness’ of it. Even with children and hound in tow this place will cleanse your very soul. We’ll all sleep well tonight!