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The latest from the war front — 9 Comments

  1. Your romantic memories have nothing to do with modern mechanized turf cutting, which is a commercial enterprise and wheeling out little old ladies who would die of cold is almost pure fantasy. Maybe the enswer is to restrict turf cutting to tradidional hand-won methods that you remember so fondly.

  2. I remember when I was 4 or 5, on holiday at my Granny’s – Grandpa had a wee farm in Fermanagh – being taken by an uncle, all of 14 or 16, to the family turf bog. It would have been 1950 give or take a year. We went by the farm cart pulled by the giant farm Clydesdale. Very environmentally good.
    Sitting beside my uncle behind those sleek chestnut haunches I was impressed by how much, how frequently and how enthusiastically the beast farted. Very, very environmentally bad.
    After a time we reached the family turf cut, or whatever it was called, in a huge area of similar cuts. We were there to turn and re-stack the little cairns of rectangular turfs (turves?).
    The sun was shining, the insects were buzzing, we had a linen bundle of fresh soda bread and a billy can of tea with milk and sugar already added, and all around other men, women and children were doing the same thing. It was like a scene from a 1960s film of a Hardy novel. Only realised this later.
    The cut from which these turfs had come was now a long pool of tea coloured water, and beyond that the moss was already replacing the turf removed from previous years.
    Looking the other way was the turf to be cut in future years. In this expanse of high and dry bog vegetation you could see the impressions of cuts that had been excavated in previous decades.
    It was only in later years that I realised that this could have been going on for centuries, digging out the turf along a long line which moved forward each year with the regrowth keeping pace behind.
    Somebody was organising it, or was it just co-operation, such that not too much was removed in any one year with the re-growth keeping pace.
    Also people were trusted not to steal from the little cairns of drying peat.
    It is fecking obvious that this is renewable energy. And far better that chopping down USA forests, bunging it in a shredder, squashing it into pellets, using energy to dry the green wood, shipping it over land to the coast , then on to a huge container ship headed for UK, again onto a train or truck all so that it can be burned in a converted coal furnace in order to generate heavily subsidised electricity. Ironic that Drax sounds like a swear word.

  3. I love the phrase ‘turbary rights’.

    I ministered in Co Laois from 2010 to 2017 where the turf-cutting was part of the community’s culture.

    The individual turf cutters had a carbon footprint considerably smaller than that of urban dwellers, yet were treated with contempt by the Fine Gael government. The great scars on the landscape were caused by Bord na Mona, not by quiet countrymen swinging a slane.

  4. Years ago we had a family holiday in the Galtee Mountains. You could buy bundles of turf for the fire from the garage. Fuck what the EU money tsunami has done to Ireland, if you understand me.

  5. I was confused, I’d heard Gráinne, in the smokydrinkybar years ago (around the time of the Flat Earth discussions – lovely, restaurateur, painter, carer – we miss her!) lamenting the new EU laws that would forbid her cutting peat, similarly traditionally.

    Then I twigged … turf is a synonym for or in a another dialect a different description of peat.

    https://www.startpage.com/do/dsearch?query=Turf+OR+peat+Ireland

    It’s so clearly an insane destructive policy idea.

    In areas of NZ, say the Waikato, there is peat, and in the past uncontrollable peat fires in them, but not as I know any tradition of harvesting it like that.

    https://teara.govt.nz/en/video/27060/peat-fire

    https://www.startpage.com/do/dsearch?query=Peat+fires+in+New+Zealand

    Another search engine for you to try. Uses Google but no tracking.
    I have another link of alternative search engines, will find later.

  6. I meant to add this pic of peat fires burning barely uncontrollably, even if started by accident.

    https://resources.stuff.co.nz/content/dam/images/4/y/w/x/q/e/image.related.StuffLandscapeSixteenByNine.1240×700.24arid.png/1648151410955.jpg
    (hmm, I already chopped some chaff off that link end, but it looks like I could go even further; this seems to work too?)

    https://resources.stuff.co.nz/content/dam/images/4/y/w/x/q/e/image.related.StuffLandscapeSixteenByNine.1240×700.24arid.png

    What a waste, considering your traditions – which didn’t as far as I know get imported here. I could be wrong;-

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