St. Patricks day is less than a week away and with the chill of winter still in the air there may be no warmer thought than a cup of tea and a nice turf fire. For those that may be new to “turf”, it’s a child of the land, the grassy bogs which over time produce the “peat” which, once dried, make up this ancient fuel.
It’s not an easy task getting your warmth from the earth. the peat needs to be cut using a shovel like tool called a slean or slane. The peat is wet heavy and needs to be piled out of the hole to dry. A bog by it’s own definition is a wet spongy place, the peat is a heavy piece of earth and the farmers dug what they could by hand. I think the term “back breaking work” may have been coined to describe the cutting of the turf. Once cut, the turf needs to be spread, footed, bagged, and dragged and eventually loaded on to a trailer or wagon. Time wise the turf is spread allowing the turf to dry for 2-3 weeks, until it can be footed and drys another 2-3 weeks.
I’ll have to confess that my image of turf is a bit more romantic than that of the poor fella that had to prepare the turf to burn. My memories are of out of the way pubs listening to fishermen chat and a pint of plain for company, that’s heaven. Any time of the year you may need to take the edge off the day or maybe you just need a bit of reassurance that all is good in the world. A cup of tea, sitting by the hearth with a turf fire smoldering away is just good for the soul.
Turf can be found around the globe these days, usually in the form of turf briquettes, that distinctive aroma of a turf fire is hard to beat and a perfect accompaniment to your St. Paddy’s day celebration.