Dark Island Bog

Dark Island bog is on the road from Cappamore to Doon. It is owned by a number of families. It was in the parish of Doon until 1973, and it is now in the parish of Cappamore. It was a thriving place sixty years or more ago, it is now redundant and very much overgrown. You would find it very dangerous to cross it now. As youngsters we often spent evenings jumping the bog holes. From April onwards men would be preparing to cut the turf, the bog would be set on fire to burn off the grass and ferns. The burning caused other problems destroying the flora and wild life. My father cut slane turf and scragh turf in O'Briens part of the bog. Other families that saved turf around us were O'Briens, Landers, Careys, Quinlans, O'Connells, O'Donoghues and Lonergans. In another part of the bog owned by Banny Beary, down from the old Erasmus Smyth school house, Peter Ryan, Andy Donoghue and Paddy Fitzgerald saved slane and hand turf. The making of hand turf was hard work. It had to be shovelled up out of the bog hole and carried out in a bog barrow and spread out on the ground. The turf then had to be formed with your hands. Further out near the road Mickey Ryan H and Mickey Mortell saved their turf. Tom Ryan H saved his turf across the road under the Glebe hill. In other parts of the bog Smyths, Bearys, Mick Leonard, Pat Byrnes and Cunninghans saved their turf. The footing of the turf was back breaking. When it came to stacking the turf the men had the skill in making the stack to throw off the rain. Sometimes the stack was covered with ferns and rushes. The bog can be a lovely place on a fine day with the dragon flies and butterflies and moths with all their colours flying around. Also the wren soaring up in the sky and to hear the cuckoo calling out. It was a great place for snipe also. Eels often turned up in the bog holes. Drinking the tea out of a sweet gallon was another luxury. The drawbacks of the bog was sitting on an ants nest, or come the evening when the midges would attack, it was then time to call it a day. Bringing home the turf on the donkey and cart was another great occasion, those were the days when neighbours helped each other, now gone forever. Dark Island Bog was mentioned during the tithe war, when the Rev. Charles Coote was having his turf cut by the Lysaghts who were under an obligation to him when a big crowd gathered and fired shots at them and hunted them out of the bog. Coote was boycotted at the time. Dark Island was later used in the War of Independence, as a dump for arms. When the bog was being burned, there were some explosions and some guns were found. In 1946 when the Mulcair River burst its banks, the river flowed down across the bog, taking with it the turf that was saved in stacks. There was also a tragedy of a child falling into a bog hole and drowning. In the collecting of the 1937 Irish Folklore, Paddy Hourigan tells of a large fish with wings that used to fly by night to the top of the hill of Nicker. After staying on the summit for two hours he returned to the bog hole, it was known as the fish hole, he never made a sound coming or going. The bog now is very overgrown and not in use, but maybe its day will come again.

Philly Fitzgerald.

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