Bog of Allen

The Bog of Allen is the largest raised peat bog in Ireland. It is over 950 sq km and spreads out across nine different counties, including Kildare, and is the source of the River Boyne.

Even though the peat in the Bog of Allen took roughly 10,000 years to form, almost 90% of it has been removed due to peat mining over the past 400 years. However, the Irish Peatland Conservation Council (IPCC) was established in 1982 with the aim of preserving a proportion of Irish peatlands for the future. So far, over 250,000 ha of peatland is under conservation in Ireland, which is 50% of Europe’s total peatland areas.

Wildlife at the Bog of Allen

The IPCC have recorded 185 plant and animal species living in 17 wildlife habitats throughout the Bog of Allen landscape. Some of these habitats include heathland, woodland, canal, swamp and lake.

The wealth of interesting wildlife in the area attracts botanists, biologists as well as the ordinary nature enthusiast. A spray of colours from various wildflowers adds to the beauty of the area. Heather, orchids, sundews, sedges and cranberries are among the plant life present, while a huge population of animals rove through the bog. Predators such as foxes and kestrels scour the bogland for prey, while the Marsh Fritillary and dragonfly are two of the common insects.

Historical Interest

Stone reputedly impressed with St Patrick's footprint in the monastic settlement at Lullymore, Co. Kildare.
Copyright Dr Catherine O'Connell, Irish Peatland Conservation Council

The Bog of Allen has many stories attached to it. According to Irish mythology, a hill on the bog was the seat of the legendary warrior Fionn McCumhaill and the Fianna. Irish folklore tells us that St. Patrick established his first church on Lullymore Island at the Bog of Allen and that one of the remained stones of the church bears the imprint of his footstep. Finally, it is said that St. Brigid regularly journeyed across the bog and the ancient trackway, or togher, she used is named after her.

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