Fulbright researcher seeking memories of Girley Bog

Fulbright researcher seeking memories of Girley Bog

The Girley Bog Meitheal, a community-based group of volunteers and organisations involved in the conservation and management of Girley Bog Natural Heritage Area and Looped Walk is hosting two events on 18th May 2019 to mark the start of Biodiversity Week.

The first event is a guided walk with the Irish Peatland Conservation Council (IPCC) titled 'A Bog Biodiversity Experience on Girley Bog'. The walk will start from Causey Farm at 2pm and participants will explore the wet and open habitat of Girley Bog and can expect to discover some of the fascinating features that peatland plants and animals have adapted to live on the open boglands of the midlands.  
IPCC’s Education Officer Nuala Madigan comments: “Bogs are wonderful places to learn about biodiversity.  The recent publication of the United Nations ‘Intergovernmental Science Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services’ (IPBES) report highlighted how up to one million plant and animal species face extinction but also notes that we can reverse this biodiversity loss. The Girley Bog Meitheal is an example of a community-led initiative to halt the loss of biodiversity on Irish peatlands, one of Ireland’s last true wildernesses’. 
In the evening, there will be an opportunity to learn more about the history, heritage, and stories of the bog, with Nuala Madigan (IPCC), Kate Flood, Timothy Sullivan, Oliver Usher and others from the Girley Bog Meitheal. There will also be an opportunity to share your stories and memories of Girley bog and these will be recorded by visiting Fulbright-National Geographic researcher Emily Toner who will take audio recordings from anyone young and old with a tale to tell. Emily is a researcher traveling around the many bogs of Ireland and you can visit her online field diary here:  https://openexplorer.nationalgeographic.com/expedition/irishbogs

The aim of the evening is to find out more about the bog’s place in the community over the past hundred years and to find out more about events from the bog’s history such as activities during the War of Independence, the Turf Production Drive during World War 2, the practice of turf cutting and how it was done in Meath, and any other stories or memories people can share. If people have photos, news clippings, turf cutting tools, or any other items of interest, these would be a welcome addition to the exhibition. This event will start at 6pm in the Headfort Hotel and refreshments will be provided. The Girley Bog Meitheal is grateful for the support of the Meath County Heritage Office in hosting this event.

The photo shows Sean Doran, youngest brother of Elizabeth (Doran) Kearns, on his way home from the bog in the late 1940s. Elizabeth, now living in Australia, wrote about her childhood experiences at Girley Bog: “At turf cutting time the bog was like a village. People from Fordstown, Girley and the Drewstown area would all be there working away, ensuring they had fuel for the coming winter. Our bog, Girley, is now a protected ecological area with an ‘Eco Walk’ where people can wander, enjoy the ambiance, the openness and a sense the freedom, but it’s much more than that. The bog is like a living thing. I feel very privileged that I had such a strong connection with the bog and had the opportunity to explore it, absorb it and live it. There was nowhere else like it”.

Girley Bog Natural Heritage Area is one of the few remaining raised bogs in County Meath and represents the eastern extreme of the range of raised bogs in Ireland. Girley Bog is now considered to be a bog of national and European importance, given the rarity of raised bog habitats worldwide. The bog is home to a unique community of plants and animals and it provides a range of benefits for people too. When bogs are wet, they keep carbon locked up and so can contribute to helping Ireland meet its climate change commitments. 

Girley Bog Meitheal

The Girley Bog Meitheal was set up in 2014 to work in partnership with landowners and the local community to manage, conserve and communicate the heritage value of Girley Bog. The group includes representatives from the local community, state agencies, local authority, NGOs, researchers, and local businesses and landowners. The group are members of the Community Wetlands Forum, a national network for community groups involved in wetland conservation, which hosted the President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins, at Abbeyleix Bog, as part of Biodiversity Week 2017.

The Girley Bog Meitheal run annual events including guided bog walks, butterfly workshops, community outreach, and other wildlife and conservation activities. Further information on events can be found at the group’s Facebook page:  www.facebook.com/girleybogmeitheal

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