The Bogs of Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands.
Planning on taking a trip to Ireland, why not include a visit to one of Ireland’s fascinating bogs, bursting with nature and home to thousands of rare species and a magical array of Irish wildlife – From rare birds like the curve-beaked curlew to frogs and giant water-walking spiders.
For many years bogs were drained and their turf was used for fuel and garden compost. Today, healthy bogs are quite limited. Of Ireland’s original boglands which once covered 310,000 hectares there is just one per cent remaining active and growing as it should.
Did you know that bogs trap and store more carbon and other gases than all of Ireland’s other ecosystems combined? When bogs are wet they are extremely powerful against climate change.
Irish bogs get the bounce they give you underfoot and their many superpowers, from super-absorbent sphagnum mosses, so why not bounce this way and explore some Irish bogs –
7 Bogs of Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands:
Lough Boora, County Offaly.
Lough Boora Discovery Park, County Offaly is a family friendly landscape full of biodiversity, art and archaeology. With walking, cycling, an outdoor sculpture park, Mesolithic settlement and fairy trail with cycle links to the Grand Canal.
The 9km Lough Boora Mesolithic Loop is one of three main walking trails within Lough Boora Discovery Park and takes about 2.5 hours to complete. It brings you along a trail of bog road and sandy tracks through the leabeg wetlands and passes by an ancient Mesolithic settlement dating back to 6500BC. Explore the southern shore of Lough Boora across the old railway embankment and to the eastern bank of the canal, known locally as the canoe course. Depending on the time of year, you can expect to see whooper swans, purple moor grass, skylarks, hares and foxes.
Clara Bog and Visitor Centre, County Offaly.
Visit Clara Bog and experience an astounding 10,000 years of history in 10 square kilometers. This naturally wet environment with deep pools and quaking surfaces is a fascinating place to connect with nature. Bring your camera or binoculars as the special nature reserve is home to many protected wildlife species and animals. At Clara Bog Visitor Centre, the enthusiastic ‘Dáithí the Dragonfly’ shows you his home and the flora and fauna that live with him through interactive touch screens. Enjoy Probing the Past, a short film on the history of Clara Bog and go on a guided tour to get expert insight into this heritage site. Make sure you have sturdy shoes as you take on The Clara Bog boardwalk, which meanders through Clara Bog Nature Reserve, close by the Visitor Centre.
Lullymore Heritage and Discover Park, County Kildare.
Explore the secrets and stories of the Lullymore Peatlands – a rich, green island surrounded by Ireland’s largest peatland, the Bog of Allen. There is lots to explore here…… learn about the people of the Peatlands and how the bogs formed, what they’re made from, the bog’s historic secrets, its industrial past and the beautiful flora and fauna that thrive on peatlands. When you visit the Peatlands exhibition, make sure you look out for wildlife from the observation windows – you will see the forms dug by the hares for shelter, the tide of bog cotton reclaiming its past territory and you might just hear the cry of the curlew or songs of skylarks, lapwing and other birds of the bog. The Biodiversity Boardwalk, the first of its type in Ireland, meanders serenely through glassy lakes and rejuvenating peat land of birch, heathers and bog cotton. It tells the story of how the Irish midlands great raised bogs, 10,000 years in the making are at the dawn of a new era.
Corlea Bog and Trackway Visitor Centre, Kenagh, Co Longford
Hidden away in the boglands of Longford, not far from Kenagh village, is an inspiring relic of prehistory: a togher – an Iron Age road – built in 148 BC, from heavy planks of oak, which sank into the peat after a short time. This made it unusable, of course, but also ensured it remained perfectly preserved in the bog for the next two millennia. At Corlea Bog and Trackway Visitor Centre, you can see an 18-metre stretch of the ancient wooden structure on permanent display in a hall specially designed to preserve it. Known locally as the Danes’ Road, it is the largest of its kind to have been uncovered in Europe and may have been a section of a ceremonial highway connecting the ritual site at the Hill of Uisneach and the royal site of Rathcroghan.
Carrowbehy Bog SAC, Gorthaganny, Co Roscommon.
Carrowbehy Bog is located in the western part of County Roscommon, and was subject to much restoration work between November 2019 and March 2020 with almost 1,100 dams installed to keep water moving on the bog, to reduce water loss, lock carbon into its peaty depths and boost the growth of sphagnum moss – something that is key to helping peat form. The works that are being carried out to re-wet the bog, should steadily improve conditions in the coming years.
“Galway’s Living Bog”, Carrownagappul Bog SAC, Mountbellew, Co Galway.
‘Galway’s Living Bog’, aka Carrownagappul Bog SAC, just outside Mountbellew, is one of the biggest, most accessible raised bogs in Ireland, covering 325 hectares. Not only is it one of the best examples of a raised bog West of the River Shannon, it is one of the most beautiful bogs in all of Europe. It has been at the centre of local community life for generations, and now welcomes people from all over the world to visit it. Every single aspect of the Irish peatlands story is contained within its SAC boundary, and with a history going back over 9,000 years, it is a bog with a great story to tell! Until very recent years, peat extraction occurred frequently along the margins of the site and along the bog roads. This turf cutting went back hundreds, if not thousands of years. In recent months, Galway County Council and Birdwatch Ireland have identified 40 different species of breeding birds on the bog.
Mongan Bog, Co. Offaly.
Mongan Bog is perhaps one of the most significant bogs not just in Ireland or indeed Europe, but in the entire world. Situated 1.5km from the monastery of Clonmacnoise, one of the world’s most historic sacred sites, the bog has dazzled and captivated visitors for many centuries. Pilgrims travelling from Europe to Clonmacnoise along the ancient ‘Pilgrims Road’ (which runs alongside and overlooks the bog) would have been amazed at this domed peatland as nothing similar would have been found elsewhere in Europe at the time.
Leave No Trace
There are 7 simple principles to follow to make sure you leave the Irish landscape and bogs as you found it after your visit –
- Plan ahead and prepare.
- Be considerate of others.
- Respect farm animals and wildlife.
- Travel and camp on durable ground.
- Leave what you find – Take nothing but photos!
- Dispose of waste properly.
- Minimize the effects of fire.
Hope is always on the horizon…
Take a trip to Ireland with Specialized Travel Services – It will be far from bog standard! Make a reconnection with Ireland and plan a vacation of a lifetime with us for 2022. Discover our native spirit, the noises of nature, the scenic landscapes, the buzzing cities, and our warm Irish welcome. There is a special treasure trove that is waiting to be explored. To find out more please get in touch – and fill your heart with a little piece of Ireland.
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Have a look at our private chauffeur vacations for even more ideas on what to visit in the Emerald Isle. We love hearing from our friends around the world so drop us a line at email@example.com
“It’s been a tad quiet recently, but these green lands are anything but asleep …
and when the time is right, we look forward to having you with us”.
Quote above ©Fáilte Ireland/Tourism Ireland
Note: Featured image at the top of the blog is of Bog Cotton at Lullymore Heritage Park, Co, Kildare. Photographer: Michael Anderton. ©Fáilte Ireland/Tourism Ireland
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