Sleans will be throwing turf onto the bank, buttermilk will be kept cool in bogholes in the traditional way, and eggs will be boiling above turf fires on Cloughbally Bog near Mullagh on Sunday July 26th, all for your entertainment and instruction. This is the message from the St Kilian Heritage Trust of Mullagh, a town on the Meath-Cavan border. The Saint, who founded his church in Wurzburg on the River Main in Germany, rightly has a heritage centre in his name in his home town. The press release says that whether you were one of those who had to bring lunch to your father as he worked at the cutting face of the bog or have never set foot on a bog, raised or otherwise, you should have a good day on Sunday fortnight, in the afternoon.
You will learn that considerable skill goes into the process of turf-cutting. You will see the various tools used. You will also be conducted by trained guides who will show you the varied plants and animal life that abound. Entertainment has been laid on for children, including pony-and-trap rides. Traditional music and dancing for the adults. The aim is to recreate the part the bog played in rural life and at the same time to heighten awareness of the importance of conserving as many as possible of our bogs for future generations.
Mullagh Bog is known locally as Cloughbally Bog or The Big Bog, but on official maps it is Killyconny Bog. Some bog. It was formed on what was originally a lake; it is in good condition and still relatively intact. A notice of intent to serve a conservation order has been issued recently, and so all activities will take place on a small part of the bog and in front of the bog face. There will be no damage to the heart of the bog itself.
There is a fine series of illustrations showing how raised bogs are formed, in Reading the Irish Landscape by Frank Mitchell and Michael Ryan, (Town House, Dublin, 1997). How we miss Frank.