Bogland is a highly distinctive and major feature of the Irish landscape. Produced under particular climate conditions and facilitated by the impeded drainage that followed the last Ice Age, there are two major types: Blanket bogs, which are relatively thin and are widespread in upland areas and in the west, and Raised bogs

Bogland near Allenwood

Bogland near Allenwood

Courtesy of Dr. Arnold Horner.

 , which may reach thicknesses of 15 metres and which are most associated with lowland areas in midland Ireland. The 'Bog of Allen' , really a zone containing a series of separate, but closely-spaced, large raised bogs mainly occupying parts of Counties Kildare and Offaly, is probably the most famous lowland bog complex. Other extensive raised bog areas are to be found in Roscommon, Laois, Longford, Tipperary and Westmeath.

In parts of east Galway, around Clonfert for example, the raised bogs reach depths of over ten metres. West of Lough Corrib however, much thinner blanket bog makes a thin cover across the rocky, lake-strewn Connemara lowland between Roundstone and Clifden.

Bogland Areas in Ireland

A widely-accepted estimate is that around 15% of Ireland has been covered by one or other of these bog types. Particularly in lowland Ireland, many bogland areas have been drained, cut away or otherwise modified in recent centuries. A continuing debate focuses on the future use of cutaway bog and on the preservation of the relatively-few remaining little-modified bogs such as that at Clara in west Offaly.

The ruins of the early Christian monastery at Monaincha near Roscrea now stand in a landscape quite different to the original setting. As its name implies, this was móin inse Cré 'bog-island of Cré', also known as Loch Cré, and the monastery stood on a small ridge in some isolation. This site may have acted as a retreat for the much larger early Christian monastic complex at Roscrea.

In Ledwich's Antiquities of Ireland (1790), a map shows the monastic site set in a lake or marsh, with 'old fish ponds' nearby. This boggy area was drained about 1800. The map says parts of the area were once a wood. To-day the monastic ruins still stand in isolation, but now the surrounds are a grassy field with little sign of the former lake. Across Ireland, many similar landscape transformations have happened, over many centuries and many of them unrecorded in documents.


previousPrevious - Lakes
Next - Coastlinenext