Have you gone up to the mountains recently?

If the world were to end at lunchtime today, what would you do, where would you go? That’s what a friend of mine asked me once, and I immediately answered: I’d go up to the Dublin Mountains, lie down in the heather and look up at the passing clouds. And listen to the song of the skylark.

I can’t explain why this place is so special to me but it’s a place where I go to think, a place where I feel ‘at home’. If you drive up from Rathfarnham, past the Hellfire Club, past the viewing point over Dublin city and continue on over the mountains towards Glencree, you come to a white road on your right that heads off across the bog towards Kippure Mountain. This is the area we called “the Featherbed”.  I never knew why.

painting of heather by John O'Grady

The mountains look different at different times of the year.  In August when the heather is in bloom, it is a sea of purple and maroon, like in the painting above by my friend John O’Grady.  In July, well I like to go up in July because that’s the time to see the Bog Cotton. But I went up there recently and I could hardly believe my eyes! As you can see from my photo below, there’s more Bog Cotton there this year than ever before. It’s like snow in summer.

Maybe it’s because of the weather – we’ve had 3 weeks of continuous sunshine here in Dublin with temperatures around 25 degrees every day. Maybe it’s because of climate change. Well, there’s no doubt that the climate is changing but I just wonder if perhaps once, long ago, we had a similar year and that’s where “the Featherbed” got its name. They used to use the cotton for stuffing pillows, didn’t they?

Photo of Bog Cotton by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

There’s more information about boglands on the Irish Peatland Conservation Council’s website : http://www.ipcc.ie/

and more paintings by John O’Grady to be seen at:  http://www.johnogradypaintings.com/



  1. Eoin,

    This is a lovely post. This place is open, timeless. Apart from the mast in the distance that reminds us of the human hand, we can imagine it has changed little for centuries and lives to the seasons’ rhythms.

    The carpet of bog cotton looks beautiful, I’ve never seen so many so close to each other.

    Why does bogland hold such a special place for some Irish people?



    • Hi Nathalie – why don’t you ask him ? 🙂
      But I think that, as you put it so eloquently, it’s the timeless quality, the seasons’ rhythms… nature, people yearn to be in touch with the natural world, away from the hub-bub of the city. Thanks for your comment, eoin


  2. The Dublin Mountains are a great place. I spent a lot of time up there in my twenties. You can’t really miss them from Ballinteer. I did some paintings in later years of the lead mine up near Kilternan and also, Glencullen. I remember travelling up there with my late brother, stopping off at the Blue Light or at Lamb Doyles for a pint or two………………………
    Thanks for rekindling these memories Eoin


  3. Hi Eoin,
    that is a really special photo, with a special story behind it. I can see why the featherbed means so much to you. Thank you for featuring the heather painting


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