Manna in bog – reflection on turf-cutting

Chapter 11

My favourite memory

By Fr. Tom Hayes

One of my treasured memories is from my childhood in Drimoleague. One of the jobs to be done at this time of year was cutting and saving turf for the winter’s fires.

A day at the bog brought together a vast array of colour, landscapes, stories told, smells, sounds, tastes and sensory experiences.

It was also hard work. Freshly cut turf is soaking in water and has to be laid out on a dry patch for the summer wind and heat to prepare its crusty shape for winter burning. My father cut and landed the sods with a speed that kept us young lads on our toes to prevent a mountain from building in front of him. The work and the fresh air did wonders for the appetite.

The highlight of the day came when my mother arrived with the tea. This was no ordinary tea. The tea came ready made, with milk and sugar added, and bottled in recycled Lucozade bottles. This was poured into cups which arrived wrapped in newspapers. It washed down chunky slices of home-made brown bread, layered with butter and sandwiched with thick cuts of home-cooked meat.

We sat on a stook of turf and took it all in! It was manna in a bog.