WALSH/LANGAN INTRODUCTION - HOME PAGE

Turf or Peat

Peat is an organic fuel formed by the accumulation and partial decomposition of vegetable matter in areas where the climate is wet and mild, and the drainage is poor. Peat deposition is the first step in the formation of coal. If the climate was drier the peat would decompose further. As it is, the moisture in the ground does not allow the vegetable matter to completely decompose. Peatland or bogland covers about 15% of Ireland. There are large expanses of "blanket" bog in County Mayo.

Peat in its natural state is 90 to 95 per cent water. In the summer time peat or "turf" is cut into blocks with a spade and set in stacks to dry. When dry, the blocks weigh from three quarters of a pound to two pounds each. Dried peat burns easily with a smoky flame and a very distinct (and pleasant) odor.

Peat was the source of heating and cooking in Ireland for centuries. It is still used in some areas of Ireland for heating. The following pictures depict the cutting, drying, carrying and selling of "turf" or peat. Turf burns without tending and remains lit even if moved.

When we were in Ireland in 2000, every pub we went into had a peat fire and we could smell the pleasant aroma of burning peat everywhere we went. Alas, on our trip in June 2004 most of the pubs had artificial fires (if they had any at all) and while you could frequently smell a peat fire it was not as common as it had been just four years before.

In September 2007 Robert McLoughlin wrote about the changes in the frequency of the peat fires in pups,

"One of the possibilities could be a change in pub ownership. For instance if a pub is family run it is much more likely to have a real fire - a family member will tend the fire etc. A pub that is owned by business partners will be more 'efficiently' run - a fire is to labour intensive (my brother owns a pub and can't get his staff to keep it going when the place is busy).

Another point is that engulfing 'affluence' which has swept the country caused the demise or the traditional pub. Many actually closed down because the trend now is buying at the 'off license' (liquor store) and drinking at home. There was a slogan on Irish radio a few years ago that "staying home is the new going out". Anecdotally I hear from many people at home that the smoking ban wasn't a major factor on pub attendance as fewer people smoke in Ireland now than ever before. The affluence has brought more interest in amenities and people are generally fairly active by comparison with other countries who share a similar climate."

Robert McLoughlin, September 6,2007


"Going for Turf"

No postmark.

Postcard collection of Maggie Land Blanck

Cutting the turf

From a 1948 guide to Connacht, book collection of Maggie Land Blanck

Cuttin and stacking turf

Stoddard lectures Ireland, 1901

On an Irish bog. Home on Holiday, this Irishman shows he has not forgotten how to save the Turf.

Not posted

Postcard collection of Maggie Land Blanck

The following two images are from Moìn Mhòr (Big Bog) Ballynoagh, Clonbur. Co. Glaway. Michael Flynn from Clochbreac recognized the place.

Padraig Canny informs me:

Officially it is called Ceapach na gCapall or Petersburg but Ballynonagh is the more correct name. It is no longer used for cutting turf. The hill in the background is called 'The Coreen'. (Aug. 2014)
Photo collection of Maggie Land Blanck

"Turf Cutting"

This postcard was clearly based on the above picture.

No postmark

Postcard collection of Maggie Land Blanck

"Ireland. Cutting Turf on a Mountain"

No postmark.

Postcard collection of Maggie Land Blanck

Photo collection of Maggie Land Blanck
"Gathering the turf"

Frank Leslie's Popular Monthly, April 1880, collection of Maggie Land Blanck

"Turf Gatherers"


Postcard collection of Maggie Land Blanck

"Bringing Home the Turf"


"Carrying Home the Peats"

No postmark

Postcard collection of Maggie Land Blanck

"The Dear Brown Bogs of Ireland"

Postmarked 1939

This card was clearly based on the above photo.

Postcard collection of Maggie Land Blanck

"Connemara Collen- Bringing home the turf"

Postcard collection of Maggie Land Blanck


Postcard collection of Maggie Land Blanck

"Coming form the bog"


The coal of the Country-Stacking Turf

Not posted

Photo collection of Maggie Land Blanck, 2004

"Stacking the turf for winter"

No postmark

Postcard collection of Maggie Land Blanck


Photo Maggie Blanck, 2000

Photo Maggie Blanck, 2000

The picture on the left shows the surface of the bog. The picture on the right, shows the dark brown layer of peat.


Stacked turf

Photo collection of Maggie Land Blanck, 2004

"A Turf Cart"

Stoddard lectures on Ireland 1901


Print collection of Maggie Land Blanck

Irish Sketches:Turf Market in the South of Ireland from the Illustrated London News, January 24, 1880


Photo courtesy of Christine Twycross

"Bridey and her Da cut the turf. I took the photo in 1973, but I do not remember exactly where in Ireland, just the name of the girl."

Christine Twycross, August 2007


If you have any suggestions, corrections, information, copies of documents, or photos that you would like to share with this page, please contact me at maggie@maggieblanck.com

The Potato and Other Crops
Houses
The People
Transportation
JOHN WALSH
MATHIAS LANGAN
WALSH/LANGANS INTRODUCTION
HOME PAGE
RETURN TO TOP OF PAGE
Irish Life

Please feel free to link to this web page.

You may use images on this web page provided that you give proper acknowledgement to this web page and include the same acknowledgments that I have made to the provenance of the image. Please be judicious. Please don't use all the images.

You may quote up to seventy five words of my original text from this web page and use any cited quotes on this web page provided you give proper acknowledgement to this web page and include the same acknowledgments that I have made to the provenance of the information.

Please do not cut and paste the whole page.

You may NOT make use any of the images or information on this web page for your personal profit.

You may NOT claim any content of this web page as your original idea.

Thanks,

Maggie


This page was created in 2004: Latest update August 2014