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Tag: cutting turf

Turfcutting, A Tall Tale and Listowel Primary Care Centre

Photo: Bridget O’Connor


Shlawns or Sleáin

This poor man when he was breaking his back cutting turf in some midland bog sometime in the last century never dreamed that one day he would be famous on the internet.

The sight of him working his slean and Kate Ahern from California with a totally different method of turf cutting prompted Vincent Carmody to share a few thoughts with us about his experience of this implement.

“….I was going to to explain to you about the different type of Sleans, however I desisted, as people would say, Carmody thinks he knows everything !!. However,as  I have been involved in helping, cutting, and saving my families and my own turf since the 1950s up to the present day, you might say I have a little experience.  


The type that is used up the country is called a breast slean, is is amenable for a one or two man exercise, with this slean the cutter has more control and can deposit the cut sod up on the bank in one movement. If needed, he could have a second man spreading the cut turf on the bank, With the one used in North Kerry, you had the cutter, who cut the sod which fell forward off the slean, the breancher ?  He was positioned in front of the sleanman, he would pike the sod up on the bank as soon as it fell from the slean, Then, in North Kerry fashion, a third man, overhead on the bank, he was known as the spreader, would spread the turf as far out on the bank as was required by however deep down in the bog hole they were cutting. 

A lot of people would cut the turf down to the mud. The depth of bogs varied, Shallow bogs might be only 2 sods deep, whereas, in the likes of Lyre or up the midlands, the bank could be, 8, 10 or even more sods deep. “



Listowel Primary Care Centre Update

I took this photo  last week. It looks like the building of this huge facility is nearing completion.

This picture gives you a better idea of where the Primary Care Centre is located.


Away with The Fairies in Rathea

Years ago a man and his wife and daughter who were living in Rathea were coming home from town in a horse and car. Himself and his daughter was sitting in front and his wife was sitting behind. They came on to Pike glasha where the horse took a drink. 

When they were coming up the hill he missed his wife from behind him and he says “God help me my heart is broke from her”. She was in the habit of getting the falling sickness. He knew there was no use in looking for her for he always said that the good people had something to do with her. 

He came home cráite and he told a few of the neighbours that his wife was missing and they came to the house to spend the night with him. About midnight the door opened and in walked his wife with a riding switch in her hand and they all knew that the riding switch didn’t belong to the house nor any of them never see it before. She faced the ladder that was near the dresser and went up a few steps and put the switch on the top of the dresser saying as she did so “Gearoid’s pony won the race tonight”. With that she fell into one of her fits and when she got out of it she said “My cure is over in the holy water stone in the Teampaillin if anyone has courage enough to bring me a drink of water it will cure me. 

The only one that consented to go was her daughter and a neighbouring boy. Away they wint and they couldn’t make out the stone. The daughter wouldn’t come home without the water and she called a neighbour living near the Teampaillin and he came and his dog followed him. The dog happened to run on before them. When they were nearing the stone he was struck and ran away

yelling and they found the stone and got the water. She brought it home and gave it to her mother and she got alright. Some of the water fell on the daughter’s hand she rubbed her hand to her eye and she was blind for the remainder of her life in that eye and the two men that were with her one of them got a sudden death and the other one was crippled for life.

Seán Treannt
Rathea, Co. Kerry
Rathea, Co. Kerry

A Minute of Your Time, Listowel Courthouse Plaza and Turf Cutting

Walking in The Regional Park, Ballincollig in January 2020


St. Bridget, Muire na nGael

These are actually Wren boys but in the same tradition of mumming Biddie boys traditionally came round at the feast of St. Bridget on February 1 bringing with them a Biddy or effigy of St. Bridget.

Her cross woven from rushes was thought to protect against fire.

There was an old proverb that predicted good weather until St. Patrick’s Day

Gach re lá breá ó mo lást amach


The Courthouse Plaza in January 2020

Listowel Courthouse

New seating in front of the courthouse

Arás an Phiarsaigh with new planting in the foreground

Listowel Public Library

New planting and seats outside the library


Another Kerry Winner in Dublin this Weekend


More Photos from my Book Launch

From Dunmanway, a friend from my schooldays, Elizabeth McCarthy

We three; with Geraldine O’Connor and Bridget O’Connor

Jerry and Annette

Hannah Mulvihill

Helen Lane McPhillips

The best neighbour and friend any one could have, Helen Moylan

Helena Halpin and  Sheila Horan

Jimmy Deenihan

Jimmy Hickey

Joan Kenny

Joe Murphy

John and Tina Kinsella


Definitely not Lyre

Remember this poor man cutting turf. I posted this photo last week and I didn’t know on what bog it was taken.  I got this response from Joe and Kay in Lyreacrompane.

Great photo Mary but not Lyreacrompane. Bord na Mona cut only machine turf in Lyreacrompane and also the horizontal style of sleán cutting was never used in Lyre.  The Lyre style is displayed by Kate Ahearn from California in this photo. Kate and her father Bob had discovered their roots in Lyreacrompane and while on a visit, a few years ago, joined our annual Dan Paddy Andy Bog Walk which always includes a chance to try out cutting turf in the old style.

Joe and Kay in Lyreacrompane


Slea Head

Photo credit; Graham Davies on This is Kerry


If today you are complaining about your job, take a look at this turfcutter. Bord na Mona employed men on a casual basis to harvest the turf. They were paid, not by the day or the hour, but by the amount of turf they cut. I don’t know if this man was in Lyreacrompane. I doubt he was as most of the photos seem to come from the bigger bogs in the midlands where there were villages of Nissan huts set up during the turf cutting season and the men (there were no women allowed) slept and ate in these huts and spend every waking hour turf cutting.

Men of the Travelling Community used to come to Lyreacrompane for the turf season and these men were a significant cohort of the Lyre workforce.

This photo, also from the great Bord na Mona Archives shows a mountain of turf in the Phoenix Park Dublin sometime during the war. Turf was exported to Britain, as there was as s shortage of coal due to the war.

Some sights from a traditional Irish summer.

Stacks on the bog

As part of the annual Stack Clan Gathering which took place at the weekend, the troop took a trip to the bog where Seamus Stack and his family introduced the visitors to the joys of a day in the bog. Ger Greaney took these photos.


Fleadh na Mumhan

This photo from Celtic Steps gives a good impression of the huge crowd that thronged Killarney’s streets at the weekend for the fabulous outdoor concerts that were part of Fleadh na Mumhan 2014.


Soccer Success

Photo; Gareth Maher

The Irish girls’ under 19 team caused a huge upset in the European Championship by beating a fancied English team. Listowel Emmett’s Savannah McCarthy scored one of Ireland’s two goals.  The very talented seventeen year old is one of the big stars of women’s football. Then to crown their victory against England they went on to beat Sweden last night. Savannagh scored one of Ireland’s two goals. Roll on the semi-final

Another less well known Kerry connection to the team was told to me by Mike Lynch

“the manager of the Irish Ladies’ Under 19 team, Dave Connell, went to Minard to learn Irish as a lad back in the 1970s.  He and his mates from the Cabra area enjoyed “The Gaeler” (as they called the Gaeltacht) a lot, particularly as Dublin were pretty good at Gaelic Football at the same time!”


Meanwhile in Muckross

On Muckross Traditional farms, the hay is saved in the old fashioned hay and is brought home to the barn on an old style hay float.


Old Post box

This old post box is at The Six Crosses


Lovely film of some of the highlights of Listowel Writers’ Week 2014

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