The Living Bog officially launched

The €5.4 million ‘The Living Bog’ project was officially launched on Friday, September 15 at Europe’s largest raised bog – Clara Bog in Offaly –  by the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys T.D.

Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys TD pictured (third from left) with Living Bog team members (from left) William Crowley, Jack McGauley, Evelyn Slevin, Ronan Casey and John Cody. Also in the picture are Brian Lucas and Suzanne Nally from the Peatlands Unit with the Dept of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. Pic: James Flynn APX.

A large attendance was present at the award-winning Clara Bog Visitor Centre, close to the bog, for the official launch. Many community groups and individuals who have a connection to each of the 12 project sites were present at the launch, as were many political, governmental, environmental, NGO, and media individuals, as well as EU LIFE officials and a host of peatland dignitaries, activists and local landowners and farmers. The project is funded by the European Union’s LIFE Programme for Nature and Biodiversity projects and the Irish government’s Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

Minister Humphreys said from an international perspective, the raised bogs of Ireland are among the most important near-natural eco-systems, and she thanked the LIFE Programme for its support in ensuring they will be enjoyed by generations to come. She said the 12 project sites could form a key part of a ‘Peat District’ in Ireland, which would attract visitors from all over the world. She equated the total area of raised bog habitat that Living Bog restoration work will improve to be akin to 7,000 major sports stadia.

 

The project sites (and nearest towns) are:

  • Ardagullion Bog SAC, Edgeworthstown/Granard, Co Longford
  • Garriskil Bog SAC, Mullingar, Co Westmeath
  • Raheenmore Bog SAC, Daingean, Co Offaly
  • Mongan Bog SAC, Clonmacnoise, Co Offaly
  • Clara Bog SAC, Clara, Co Offaly
  • Ferbane Bog SAC, Ferbane Co Offaly
  • Moyclare Bog SAC, Ferbane, Co Offaly
  • Sharavogue Bog SAC, Birr, Co Offaly
  • Derrinea Bog SAC, Co Roscommon
  • Carrowbehy Bog SAC, Co Roscommon
  • Carrownagappul Bog SAC, Mountbellew, Co Galway
  • Killyconny Bog, Mullagh, Co Cavan/Meath.

1% OF THE BOGS LEFT

The Minister hopes the 12 bog project will be the start of a major re-appreciation of Ireland’s last remaining raised bogs. Just 1% of the 850,000 acres of active, living raised bog mapped in the early 1810’s by Richard Lovell Edgeworth and others remains, and this alone accounts for almost 50% of the active, living raised bog in Western Europe.

This is biggest single raised bog restoration project in the history of the state. It will see an area of raised bog the equivalent of 7,000 Croke Parks brought back to life. The project, in consultation with landowners and local communities, will use active restoration measures to establish suitable conditions for peat to once again form on the bogs. I hope this project will go towards the creation of a ‘Peat District’ for Ireland – an area of raised bogs which will give visitors a chance to discover 10,000 years of history.

“As an education and tourism resource, the natural eco-system that is a raised bog is without equal in Ireland. ‘The Living Bog’ team will encourage youngsters from National School level right up to University to visit project sites to learn more about this unique landscape. The project will also support community-led amenities at the bogs, with new walking trails and boardwalks being developed as the bogs become educational and environmental amenities.”

At launch, Minister Humphreys announced that amenity provision is to be developed for five sites and she was delighted to note the Living Bog team have been working with local community groups, and engaging with other government and local authorities to develop plans for amenities with the local groups.

RTÉ’s news reporter and midlands editor Ciaran Mullooly reported on The Living Bog launch, bringing Clara Bog to hundreds of thousands of TV viewers and millions online. Local schoolchildren from Scoil Bhride and Scoil Phroinsias Naofa brought Ciaran on a tour of the bog with guides Rebecca Dobson of Clara Bog Visitor Centre and George Smith of The Living Bog.

The Living Bog team will be extending their community reach over the coming months, and will also be developing a schools programme with hundreds of schools. The project is also creating a history of midlands bogs and have urged locals in all 7 counties who have bog memories – be they of wildlife, work and tall tales – to contact them via email life@raisedbogs.ie or contact Ronan Casey at 076 1002627.

The launch and associated tour of Clara Bog were filmed by Irish national broadcaster RTÉ, and Midlands Editor and reporter Ciaran Mullooly created an impressive report which aired on the Irish national news at 6:01pm that day. It is also online HERE.

Well-known nature photographer Tina Claffey was among those at the launch and she was delighted to give the Minister the very first edition of her new bog photography book ‘Tapestry of Light’ to the Minister. The book has been part-supported by The Living Bog and the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and is available nationwide in all good book stores and online HERE.

Below you will see a photo gallery from the launch.

You read about the launch on the Department website HERE

Birr nature photographer Tina Claffey presented the first copy of her new book ‘Tapestry of Light’, which was part-funded by ‘The Living Bog’ and the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht to Minister of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys at the ‘Living Bog’ launch. She is pictured with Ronan Casey of ‘The Living Bog’.

Raised Bog Life