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Bringing Home The Turf.

Getting a stack of turf home from the bog for the winter was a must for families in times past. It provided the fuel to heat and to cook and in many homes it was a source of light as the family gathered round the turf fire of a winter’s evening. Many a back-breaking day was spent saving the turf in the bog  and many a sigh of relief was breathed when the man of the house could stand back and look at the turf at his own house, knowing that at least he could keep the house warm come the winter. The cutting of the turf after paring the bog, throwing them out, spreading them, footing them and maybe doing so again during a poor summer, drawing them out either in bags or loose, and then getting them home. First it was the donkey and creel, then donkey and cart, horse and cart, tractor and trailer and latterly the Lorry. More recently too the hand cutting was replaced with the machine cutter or rather the piping machine as the turf came out in long strings. It was a tough place - the bog, not for the faint hearted but a healthy place nonetheless. Many will remember the enjoyment of having the tea and bread with the boiled eggs in the bog. Memories of those times can be recalled by so many rural folk and in north Monaghan in particular.
Now it seems that is all past now and the powers that be and those who claim to save the earth have decreed that it will be illegal to cut turf henceforth. ‘We must save the bogs’ ! The arguments put forward by these ‘experts’ has failed to convince me but then ‘experts’ are running our country, and have allowed us get into the economic mess we are in and we can do little to halt the spiral downwards.
A picture of a farmer taking home the turf with donkey, horse or tractor will remain only in peoples’ minds as it can never happen, legally, again. Perhaps it was this that persuaded Joe McPhillips from Smithboro to set up the scene and record it on video to leave for posterity. To that end on Wednesday, August 4th a strange gathering arrived into Scotstown village with the various modes of turf transport from the barrow to the tractor enacting the Turf homecoming for the last time. At the stopping point outside McCague’s Bar Frank and Brendan were on hand to provide light relief and stage a humurous interlude to entertain the big crowd which had gathered, some wondering - what in under God was going on? John was cameraman, sound engineer, director and traffic warden all in one, though with some assistance from a daughter he also had an acting part. His wife was also playing a number of parts and changed costume a number of times en route. Other locals found themselves with ‘walk-on parts’ too as they mingled freely with the cast during the shoot. A Garda stepped in to prevent two drunks cycling home and to stop Sarah committing murder - all in good fun. It certainly brought a buzz to Scotstown but the video will bring a buzz to many a mind when it is viewed in years to come.
We bring you a pictorial of the event. Captions would be superfluous.


The narration was supplied by story-teller, historian, and expert turf cutter - Mackie Rooney.

Above is John Treanor, Drumdart, who had a considerable input to the organising of the project, seen here carrying the creel from donkey to house.

Frank and Brendan are stopped by ‘Garda’ for ‘drunk in charge’.