This photograph was sent to me by Niamh Ashe, daughter of the late John. I did my best to enhance it but you will need to zoom in for a better look at some familiar faces.

57 years have brought a few changes!


This picture was taken at Barna. It looks like a fairly ingenious but precarious method of loading a turf lorry.

The photo was taken in the late 1940s. It’s not of great
quality as it was part of a series of photos taken by B na M engineers covering
all BnM operations between 1947 and 1953. The photos were taken to record the
work going on at the time and were for internal use. They were used to discuss
means of improving work practices, like loading turf.óna-Heartland

In response to my appeal last week, Tom Fitzgerald brought me an old Lyre journal with some stories from the  Bord na Mona works there. Below is one of the articles.

Travellers Footing the Turf in BNM Lyreacrompane

A “floor” of turf consisted of 32,000 sods which had to be
lifted and placed 2 on 2, four rows high with one on top – a total of 9
altogether. This method of footing was
different from the local practice of placing the sods roughly in a pyramid
shape. This method required a certain
degree of skill and dexterity, and was required to ensure that the slean turf
would dry. The machine turf was more
compressed in its manufacture and therefore easier to “save”. This lent itself to the horizontal
“foot”. The time required to “foot” a
floor of turf varied according to whom you speak to and like the fish that got
away, improves with each telling.

     The work was
often carried out by the whole family with children joining parents after
school. Not all “floors” were equal, some being dryer or on better ground than
others. Regardless, the job required
that 484 foots be made per hour. This
involved handling over 60 sods per minute or one per second.

     The work was
back breaking and the black turf would rip the less weather-beaten hands, but
payment was by the “floor” so it was up to each worker to set his or her own

     Footing the turf
was labour intensive and an unusual aspect was the influx of travellers each
year to avail of the plentiful work. A
verse written by John Joe Sheehy sums up the relationship that existed between
this migrant workforce and local people. 

     The tinkers are footing

     The times they are great

     They’re camped by the river on Paddy’s

     And old Charlie remarked as he pawed at
the grate

     The “bate” of the Lyre people

     Cannot be found.

    The neighbours so friendly

   Invite us to call

   The devil a refusal we meet with at

   And be sure t’wont be long

  ‘Till you’ll come the next time

   As sure as my name is bold Charlie O’Brien

  A bit of tobacco or even a fag

  Or an old boiled potato to stuff in my bag

  Or a sup of sweet milk you don’t need for
the calf

 And Charlie moves on

 With his step and half.

Perhaps even more back breaking than turf cutting was work
on the Collector. This machine was a
long conveyor belt stretching across the full width of the turf bank. It was then driven forward as 9 men lifted
the sod “foots” and threw them into the connector. The belts continuously conveyed the turf
until it fell off to make one long reek about 7 feet long and 9 feet wide
beside the loco tracks.

    Later the reeks
were “slated”. This was done by
overlapping the outside sods in the manner that is tiled. The turf was then filled into the loco and
brought to the “tip” where it was tipped into waiting lorries.

     One of the biggest
sources of discontent with the  “Bord”
was the speed of the Collector. The
machine was the focal point of many a disagreement and the many accounts of
workers taking direct action to slow the all engulfing monster.

This man is throwing sods of turf into a collector. Below is a picture of an automatic collector, which has taken all the drudgery out of taking the sods off the bog.


This picture is from Leonard Cohen’s concert in Kilmainham last week. Cohen wrote on his blog

” There is no better audience than an Irish audience.”


Meanwhile in Galway the flags are still out.


Great news story from The Irish Examiner

Sminky Shorts creator signs with talent agency as TV show beckons

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A talent agency to the stars has signed the Irish comedic genius behind the hilarious Sminky Shorts internet cartoon sensation.

London-based United Agents represents Ricky Gervais, Richard Attenborough, Sophie Dahl, David Dimbleby, Clive James, and Kate Humble. 

The agency has now added Jason Sullivan to its stable of clients after his animation series was featured in the Irish Examiner.

The agency spotted the article in August and approached Jason a week later. Following a series of meetings, Jason confirmed last night he has agreed to sign up with them.

The 27-year-old from Kanturk in Co Cork, who produces the quirky and irreverent Sminky Short animations under the pseudonym Andrew James, said the fact the agency also represents the global online cartoon smash hit Simon’s Cat — which has an audience of some 250m people — clinched the deal for him. 

I had resisted putting in a link before in case people thought that this was more of a viral thing but now that he has hit the big time here goes: this is my favourite but I love them all.

Gwan ya boya!  Ceann Toirc abú!