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Turf Cutting

Turf being essential for our heating and cooking got cut in late spring each year.  Around St. Patrick's Day the bank of bog was stripped.  This meant marking a straight line along the stretch of bog to be used.  A spade and a hay knife were then used to cut the top grassy sod off the bank.  If it were one sod bog, the bank was stripped about four feet wide. Whereas if it were a high bank of five or so sods, eighteen inches wide would suffice.  It was necessary to have enough space on the bank to spread the sods side by side to dry.  Co-ering with the neighbours was the usual practice - they named the day and the neighbours came to help.

One man on the Slean, cutting the sod.  Another man using a three prong pike to lift the sod on to the bank, a third man on the bank using a three prong pike also to spread the sods evenly lying flat on the bank to dry.

In the weeks that followed the turf was footed.  This meant lifting each sod and standing it on end, then balancing it against the other sods to form a bee hive shape with approximately six sods standing on end.  The wind and sun being able to reach all sides of the sod in this position soon dried it, in readiness for being drawn home for the winter fires.

The bog deal which was dug up with the turf, also gave off great heat.  This being the remainder of the ancient forests in Ireland prior to the land being cleared for cultivation.

Our returned emigrants who grew up with memories of turf fires and days in the bog, would feel their holiday in Ireland was incomplete without a visit to the bog.  Here they could reminisce on days of old, look out for the grouse, the snipe, the curlew or the cuckoo, pick up some heather or a ciaran of turf to tie a green ribbon on and take back as a souvenir.  Unfortunately, our renouned bogs are diminished and sadly becoming forested.  Trees of non-Irish origin are covering our countyside.

Brosna