As early as 1807 it was considered that peat could be used as a commerical fuel, before that any discussion about the boglands were concerned with reclaimation for agricultural use. All through the 1800’s unsucessful attempts were made to win turf commerically, and in 1872, when a miners’ strike in England increased the price of coal in Dublin by 100% , renewed efforts were made to exploit this natural resource. It was finally achieved by Sir John Purser Griffith at Turraun, Co. Offaly when in 1924 he built a power house, and with fully automatic machines he produced turf of a first class quality. His principles of bog drainage and operating of machines formed the basis on which the Turf Development Board and subsequently Bord na Mona worked, although both made many mechanical improvements.*
The culmination of these commercial efforts is now represented in the black landscapes of developed bogs, but this natural resource is finite and production is estimated to cease within 15 -20 years. Once this happens these exposed landscapes will disappear as the land will be put to agricultural and recreational use, and the visual evidence of such a significant national industry will be hidden.
Simon Burch is a professional photographer based in Dublin, Ireland. He divides his time between commissioned and fine art photography, and was awarded an MFA with distinction from the University of Ulster in 2014.
The Gallery of Photography is Ireland’s foremost photography gallery and shop with darkrooms and digital imaging facilities, located in Dublin.