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An interactive image that teaches about the processes and connections of traditional turf cutting.


Turf Cutting!

Click On Me First!


Modern Turf Cutting


Making little towers

The Fourth Step

After about a week of drying spread out the peat is then gathered together and stacked against each other on end to help facilitate further drying. It would stay in this stacked way for another one to two weeks until it was completely dry. After fully drying the peat is then stored until it is time to use it.

The second step is to cut out the peat

The Second Step

One person stands down in the bog pit and uses a special tool called a slean, a spade type tool with an extension on the side to cut on two sides, to cut the peat moss and throw it out to someone on the bank.

While that top layer can't be used for burning, it was used for other things. One thing that it could be used for was as a base layer in thatching roofs.

The First Step

The top layer is not usable in burning like the lower layers so it is removed using a spade and a shovel to get at the usable peat turf underneath.

The first step in cutting turf is to remove the top layer of sod and heather.

The third step is to start the drying process

The Third Step

The person on top of the bank takes the lengths of peat and spreads them all out to begin the drying process. A pitchfork would often be used for this though wasn't necessarily needed.The peat would dry here for about a week depending on the weather.

The work to prepare fuel for the whole year

Turf Cutting!

Turf cutting is a large part of Irish history and heritage. At its simplest, turf cutting is the process taken to prepare peat moss to be burned.This process is very time consuming and highly intensive, but much needed as it is used in the home for cooking and warming the home.It is a process that the whole family does together. Most kids begin helping with it as early as six years old. It would take the family generally take a week or two to cut all of the peat they would need for the year and several more to finish the process of drying it for use.Click on each element to learn more!

Some Cool Visuals on the tools

Sometimes being out in the bog together led to other stories and pieces of folklore. Here are some links to some of those.

Some Other Cool Things

Turf Cutting was a key part of life for most rural families. They would spend weeks together out in the bog because they had to. The whole family would help in the process. The littlest kids would run around and play in the bog while everyone else helped. Then, after all of their team work they would go home with the feul they needed to last until the next year.

How It Is Done

Turf cutting is still a very prevelent piece of Irish culture today and while some people choose to stick to traditional methods of cutting, most turf is cut using a tractor. On the back of the tractor is attatched a tool that digs deep into the earth without the need for cutting away the heather first and puts the turf right on top ready to dry.

This method of cutting turf is much faster than traditional methods. On average someone on a tractor can get done in an hour what would have taken a group of people a week to do the traditional way.

The Turf Cutting Debate

There is curently a large debate going on about turf cutting and the effects it has. There is a movement to stop turf cutting in attempts to save and conserve Irish bogland. On the other hand there are the people to whom turf cutting is a way of life. To some it is their main crop and how they make a living. And others still use peat turf to warm homes and cook. They have to do because they have to have means to light a fire.That begs the question, what do they do?