Back home

 

Hello again folks, I’ve been away for a while but now I’m back home in Dublin so I can  resume my blog .  I was up in Co. Donegal on a month-long residency in Cló Ceardlann na gCnoc ( www.clo.ie ) and the internet connection there was extremely unreliable so forgive me friends for not writing more regularly.  Over the next while I will tell you all about the residency, which was really great, but today I’m just uploading a few photos…  First of all a photo of Errigal – you can see a small building in the bottom left of this photo – that is the abandoned railway station of Caiseal na gCorr.  If you were to follow the railway line for half a mile or so, you would come to Cló, where I was staying.  I started off with the idea of following this abandoned railway line through the mountains and making sketches as I went – and I was doing that for a while – but then I became interested in the ancient tree stumps ( bog oak ) that were protruding from the bog, all over the place.   See below, a few drawings.   Slán go fóill…

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3 comments

  1. Hello Eoin,

    I am not surprised that the bog oaks you found at Caiseal na gCorr interested you. These trees are truly ancient, and not just a few hundreds years ancient but literally thousands of years!

    The tree stumps you show look like they were very large trees. I’m not sure what they are, but I suspect they are pine. Generally speaking, the types of wood found preserved in bogs are Scot’s pine, oak and yew. According to the Irish Peatland Conservation Council website they can be from 4,000 to 7,000 years old.

    I took a look at “Reading the Irish Landscape” by the late Frank Mitchell for more info. It seems that raised bogs first began to form around 7,000 years ago, replacing many lakes and their surrounding forests, and then blanket bogs began to form around 4,200 years ago, engulfing forests right across the Irish uplands, even to the mountain tops, and down to sea level along the western seaboard.

    Some tree stumps have been exposed on hilltops where the peat has weathered, for example in Glenveagh National Park. Elsewhere, the cutting of turf over the years has revealed tree stumps at the base of the peat. I think the examples you show are of this kind.

    One amazing piece of trivia is that the Brehon laws listed the pine among the noble trees, even though it had already disappeared in Ireland by the time those laws were put on paper (vellum?) in the 7th century AD. Y’see, the bogs were already thousands of years old by then and the people knew about the bog oak and bog deal (pine) preserved within. They had even figured out ways to find the stumps and trunks in intact bogs. Again from the Irish Peatland Conservation Council’s website:

    “People would search bogs for areas wherever the early morning dew, frost or snow disappeared first; these areas suggested the presence of buried wood. A long metal probe was used to confirm the presence of timber. It is said that an experienced hand was able to tell the size, the way in which the timber lay, the tree species and the quality of the timber, all with a metal pole.”

    I look forward to seeing more of your thoughts, works, presentations on the fossil forest of Caiseal na gCorr.

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    • Thanks Cóilín for your very informative comment. I thought that they were old but I really didn’t realise just how old they were… I was interested in them because they seemed so strong, so tenacious, so noble… They had survived for so long in the landscape and they seemed almost impossible to uproot; they evoked for me a bygone era, an age of warriors and druids, of Cú Chulainn cróga; and they seemed like ancient citadels in miniature; they came to represent for me a Gaelic heritage which is close to extinction in this globalised world. And I wonder now if, as you say, they have been exposed to the air by the cutting of turf, I wonder will they survive much longer or will they gradually fade away?

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