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Impact by European Union on Irish Turf Bogs

Updated on February 11, 2018
sangre profile image

Interested in social and political issues that impact society today.

Stacked Turf in Bog

Turf Stacked
Turf Stacked | Source

For hundreds of years, Irish people have cut turf in local bogs. Nearly every family had a patch that they would save turf in each Summer. This was a big part of people's childhood, mine included, where you turned, stacked, bagged and brought home turf each Summer.

Since the middle ages, the Celtic people have used peat which they harvested from the bog to heat their homes during the great famine.

These people were part of a culture that exists and still do in some parts of Ireland today. Now their cultural rights and traditional rights are being taken away by the very government they elected to represent them.

The EU Water Directive now known as the " EU Habitats Directive" has been introduced to improve the water quality in the Irish countryside.

This entails banning people from cutting turf on raised bogs, as these bogs are known as water sinks. The European Directive states that no more turf cutting can take place on any of these bogs, due to the fact that they are supposedly being badly damaged each time peat is cut in them.


The first time people saw EU impose their voice was in 1992, when according to the European Habitats Directive, the Irish State would now need to implement measures to protect various species and natural habitats in Ireland.

This wouldn't normally cause an issue with Irish people as we all know, we have to do our part for the environment.

But the one thing that Irish people did take issue with was the idea that raised bogs were to be considered as an importance area that needed to be preserved.

They are considered special areas of conservation (SACs).

Compensation

To compensate the people that this directive will directly effect the government decided to give them €1000 euro for their loss. But unlike turf, which can cost €300.00 a year to heat your home, other sources can cost a person up to €3,000. So is €1,000 really enough compensation?

If you are found to be illegally cutting turf you will face a large fine.

There is no ban however on cutting turf on blanket bogs yet. A blanket bog consists of a layer of peat, 10 -15 meters deep. It sits on a rock bed or an old lake bed.

Conservation Bogs In Connaught

Year Designated
Site Code
Name
County
1997
231
Barroughter Bog
Galway
1997
248
Cloonmoylan Bog
Galway
1997
285
Kilsallagh Bog
Galway
1997
296
Lisnageeragh Bog and Ballinstack Turlough
Galway
1999
297
Lough Corrib
Galway/Mayo
1997
301
Lough Lurgeen Bog/ Glenamaddy Turlough
Galway
1997
326
Shankill West Bog
Galway
1997
1242
Carrownagappul Bog
Galway
1997
2110
Corliskea/Trien/Cloonfelliv Bog
Galway/Roscommon
2002
2347
Camderry Bog
Galway
2002
2350
Curraghlehanagh Bog
Galway
2002
2352
Monivea Bog
Galway
2002
2356
Ardgraigue Bog
Galway
 
 
 
 
1997
457
Derrynabrock Bog
Mayo/Roscommon
1997
497
Flughany Bog
Mayo/Sligo
1997
547
Tawnaghbeg Bog
Mayo
2002
2298
River Moy
Mayo/Roscommon/Sligo
 
 
 
 
1997
592
Bellanagare Bog
Roscommon
1997
597
Carrowbehy/Caher Bog
Roscommon
1997
600
Cloonchambers Bog
Roscommon
1997
604
Derrinea Bog
Roscommon
1997
614
Cloonshanville Bog
Roscommon
2002
595
Callow Bog
Roscommon
2002
2338
Drumalough Bog
Roscommon
2002
2339
Ballynamona Bog and Corkip Lough
Roscommon
2002
2349
Corbo Bog
Roscommon
2002
2354
Tullaghanrock Bog
Roscommon
 
 
 
 
1997 & 2002
440
Lough Ree
Ros/LD/WM

Bord na Mona, a state owned company that was set up to provide peat to power stations for heat is doing more destruction to bogs than farmers and traditional turf cutters.

Bord na Mona harvests millions of tonnes of peat each year. Some is for horticultural purposes and the other is for peat burning power stations, yet Bord na Mona is not affected by this ban.

In disadvantage areas farmers and turf cutters rely on selling turf as another source of income for living.

Bog Snorkelling

Bog Snorkling
Bog Snorkling | Source

Bog Snorkelling

A past time where individuals swim in bog drains.

Wet gear is an optional choice but is usually the choice of swim wear.

Snorkels and flippers are also a requirement for the swim.

Many competitions are held in this type of sport.


Types of Turf Cutting

Nowadays turf is cut by two different types of machines. They are a Sausage machine and a Hopper machine. The turf is cut and peat sods are extruded and then laid on the surface of the bog. These sods are left to dry which is referred to as "on the flat" for 4-6 weeks until dry, or more depending on the Irish weather. The turf is then collected and brought home and stored in a shed and used as fuel for the winter months.

This fuel is used by families in many home as the main source of heating and it also costs very little for them to produce it. Turf is cheap in comparison to coal and oil and it also has the benefits of being very clean to burn as it produces very low emissions.

Method One: Sausage

This has a sword like blade which cuts into the peat and extrudes the peat through a chute and lays its on the surface of the bog ground.

Method Two : Hopper

In this method an excavator digs into the bog ground and scoops the peat up and then loads its into a bin on the hopper. The peat is mixed with beaters and an auger and is then extruded through chutes and spread on the bog surface.

Conservation Bogs In Munster

Year Designated
Site Code
Name
County
2002
2343
Tullaher Lough and Bog
Clare
 
 
 
 
1997
382
Sheheree (Ardagh) Bog
Kerry
2002
2351
Moanveanlagh Bog
Kerry

Conservation Bogs In Leinster

Year Designated
Site Code
Name
County
1997
6
Killyconny Bog (Cloghbally)
Cavan/Meath
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
1997
391
Ballynafagh Bog
Kildare
2002
2331
Mouds Bog
Kildare
 
 
 
 
2002
2332
Coolrain Bog
Laois
2002
2333
Knockacoller Bog
Laois
 
 
 
 
1997
1818
Lough Forbes Complex
Longford/Ros
2002
2341
Ardagullion Bog
Longford
2002
2346
Brown Bog
Longford
2002
2348
Clooneen Bog
Longford
 
 
 
 
1997
566
All Saints Bog and Esker
Offaly
1997
572
Clara Bog
Offaly
1997
575
Ferbane Bog
Offaly
1997
580
Mongan Bog
Offaly
1997
581
Moyclare Bog
Offaly
1997
582
Raheenmore Bog
Offaly
1997
585
Sharavogue Bog
Offaly

Hopper Machine Cutting Turf

Hopper Machine extruding turf on bog surface
Hopper Machine extruding turf on bog surface | Source

Turf Cutters & Contractors Association

Turf Cutters Organisation was originally formed by Mr Paddy Concannon. That organisation then joined up with the Contractors Association in 2008, Now both of these parties are known under the name 'The Turf Cutters and Contractors Association'.


Conclusion

The Irish Turfcutters and Contractors Association are doing all they can to see the ban lifted from some of the bogs. This year turf that had been cut on some of the protected bogs by the cutters was allowed to be removed by the Peatlands Council. This might not be the case next year however. It is hoped by next year some sort of agreement can be reached between all parties.

© 2011 Sp Greaney

Comments

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    • sangre profile imageAUTHOR

      Sp Greaney 

      3 years ago from Ireland

      Thanks Mom In Gods Hands. I think us Irish people would love if it if it was not the case.

    • Mom In Gods Hands profile image

      April 

      3 years ago from Fort Myers

      My husband is from Cappincur and says this is spot on. :)

    • sangre profile imageAUTHOR

      Sp Greaney 

      4 years ago from Ireland

      Hi maggie, that's a very good point. It seems certain sectors are more vocal in voicing their opinion than others. It's good to see that they are still fighting for what they believe in and letting nothing stand in their way.

    • profile image

      maggie 

      4 years ago

      I notice there is no outrage in regards to environmental issues when the land is being excavated to put in a new football pitch, a shopping centre, a car park, cinema, ao another Bord Failte approved holiday home, B&B or yet another tourist connected venture but those who need to cut the turf to bring a warm comforting glow to our homes and the homes of our children are indeed a new band of criminals that will become the threat the idea of a totally dependant "New Society" Completely incomprehensible.

    • sangre profile imageAUTHOR

      Sp Greaney 

      5 years ago from Ireland

      @ rj, thanks for your comment. You're obviously well informed in your facts about this topic and I agree with what you say. Obviously the men in the 'offices' just want to do what they can to keep the EU people happy. At least people are standing their ground and taking action against the higher up people.

    • profile image

      rj 

      5 years ago

      there is 1.25 million of bog that has not ever been cut in Ireland

      then how come the NP&WS tell us that only 1% of our bog is in good

      shape with a 500 million euro budget thay should know it not the turf cutting that doing the harm as the none cut area are in a worse condition

      than were turf is being cut.

      before the famine there was 8 million people using turf for to heat there home and help grow there crops.

      now a days theres only a small percent of people do so

      the EU directive ask for 5% of bogland persavation not the 50% being

      implymented by all the public officie,s in Ireland this is jobs for the boys using taxpayer money. sending more people out of the country or on to the dole.

      the small amount of bog lost could be planted with renewable crops that

      are good for wild life and the planet BUT that would just be sensable Ireland won,t do sensable.

      this country needs

    • sangre profile imageAUTHOR

      Sp Greaney 

      6 years ago from Ireland

      @ Perty, I think a 1/5 of our population is in your country :-). They are leaving here as quick as the planes are flying out.

    • Perty profile image

      Perty 

      6 years ago

      Interesting! I have often wondered what turf was like, as it has been mentioned in many books I have read.

      A lot of the Irish people must be in Australia at the moment as I run into them all over Sydney.

      Great writing by the way.

    • sangre profile imageAUTHOR

      Sp Greaney 

      6 years ago from Ireland

      @ shadowprancer, thanks for your comment. Lets just say Ireland is having a few problems at the moment. We are all hoping it will get better in a few year.

    • shadowprancer profile image

      shadowprancer 

      6 years ago from Washington

      Very interesting topic. Thank you for informing me. I had heard about the problems with depleting the bogs, but I didn't know the full extent of the issue.

      http://brittanysblogofrandomthings.blogspot.com/

    • sangre profile imageAUTHOR

      Sp Greaney 

      7 years ago from Ireland

      @ Sushant Thankur, thanks for your comment.

    • profile image

      Sushant Thakur 

      7 years ago

      Just read your hub on traffup. It's an interesting and informative hub. Voting it up

    • sangre profile imageAUTHOR

      Sp Greaney 

      7 years ago from Ireland

      @ Karen Wodke, in the countryside piped natural gas is not available. It's either oil, coal or turf.

      People who have central heating still love to have an open fire and burn turf. It feels more homey.

    • Karen Wodke profile image

      Karen Wodke 

      7 years ago from Midwest

      This is fascinating! I just take my central heat and air for granted, I guess. Do they not use natural gas to heat their homes? I am intrigued.

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