Aug 29, 2011

The Controversy of Peat

Connemara Peat [1058]
Photo by Rick Payette
I did not visit a peat bog when I was in Ireland. Hopefully next time. When we think about a traditional Irish cottage we naturally think of a peat fire. But burning peat is not that common now because of regulations.

I was listening to a news report about the issue of the Irish Republic threatening to arrest folks who were harvesting peat on their own land. Apparently the European Union, of which the Republic of Ireland is a part, will issue fines that the government can't afford. (Read more here.) On the other hand, some families have been harvesting peat on their own lands for generations and don't plan to stop.
Traditional farmer - Connemara - Ireland _S4E7018
Photo by Francesco Veronesi
(The practice has been around for centuries.) The cost of fuel is exorbitant over there and peat is an excellent heat source, so I assume that's why they harvest it. Peat is also used to generate electricity. But I've also heard that the bogs are being rapidly depleted and at this rate will soon disappear. In addition sometimes valuable artifacts are destroyed or damaged by the heavy equipment that is used to harvest the peat.
Peat Cutting Machinery, Bangor - Erris, Co Mayo March 1991
Photo by Sludgegulpher
For more information on peat bogs, both natural and man-assisted, see this blog.

Peat is also used in gardens and here we read that once again the English in the UK are to blame for exploiting Ireland. (I'm not saying it's not so, just reporting!)

Perhaps a bigger issue is whether or not the common people in Ireland will have a say over this issue or whether conservationists will have the last word. As for me, I'm not buying any peat moss for my garden. Most of what we get here I understand comes from Canada, but if I can live without using what is not really a renewable resource, I will. Still, it would be nice to smell a peat fire when in Ireland.

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