Layers 1 – Photography, Archaeology, Ecology, and Raised Bogs

A Webinar by Creative Rathangan Meitheal will take place on Saturday, 7 November 2020 at 9:45 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.


This online event explores the multi-layered landscape of Ireland’s great midland bogs through photography, archaeology and ecology. Tina Claffey, author and award-winning nature photographer will explore ‘The Living Skin’ – that carpet of life which is stripped away so that peat can be harvested. Benjamin Gearey and Rosie Everett, UCC, take Seamus Heaney’s ‘Bogland’ as the theme of their presentation – Peatlands as Cultural and Environmental Palimpsest – exploring what is discovered and what is lost in the harvesting of peat. In ‘Raised Bogs and Carbon Sinks’ – Maurice Eakin Snr. Wetland Ecologist (National Parks & Wildlife Service) traces the formation of Ireland’s great midland bogs, and their importance as carbon sinks which can store more carbon than any other terrestrial habitat.

‘The Living Skin’ – Tina Claffey

Bogs are magical places that defy any distinction between land and water. They are the last true wildernesses in Western Europe and are home to extraordinary plant and animal species that have adapted to survive in this unique environment. Tina has been exploring these wondrous bogs through the seasons with her macro lens, capturing an enchanted wilderness in its minuteness, seeing beyond what the human eye is capable of.

Join Tina as she takes you on a visual journey through the seasons and reveals the magical inhabitants of this ancient wilderness. This ‘Living Skin’, this carpet of life that we tread upon is full of wonders when we slow down to observe. Carnivorous plants with their sticky tentacles, sphagnum mosses frozen in time in the deep bog pools, ancient water creatures exploring their depths, kaleidoscopes of colour through dewdrops on the backs of wondrous insects.

Tina Claffey is an award winning nature photographer and author of ‘Tapestry of Light -Ireland’s Bogs & Wetlands As Never Seen Before’ (2017). For almost 10 years, she lived and worked in pristine wilderness areas in Botswana, and this experience awakened in her an appreciation of the natural world of Ireland. Her observations and unique perspective of the flora and fauna of the unspoilt raised bogs and wet woodlands of the Irish midlands are celebrated in her work.

‘Every layer they strip/Seems camped on before’ – Peatlands as Cultural and Environmental Palimpsest – Benjamin Gearey and Rosie Everett, Wetfutures, UCC

In this talk, Benjamin Gearey and Rosie Everett reflect on Irish peatlands: landscapes that are a key part of cultural identity, a resource that helped power the establishment of the Free State and an enduring source of inspiration for art and literature, but now much depleted and degraded. In particular, we consider the irony that the drainage and extraction of peat is the process that has exposed the rich archaeological record preserved in the bogs: this mechanism of discovery is that of destruction. We outline the extraordinary range of sites and artefacts and the associated scale of loss of these remains through mechanised peat cutting. We also briefly reflect on the further irony that peat cutting acts as a powerful metaphor of creativity in the iconic ‘ bog poems’ of Seamus Heaney. We also look to the future and sketch out how we can reimagine our relationships with peatlands, drawing on the cultural and environmental records that survive both in imagination and in record.

‘Raised Bogs and Carbon Sinks’ – Maurice Eakin, Senior Wetland Ecologist (National Parks & Wildlife Service)

In this presentation Maurice Eakin reveals the means by which Ireland’s great midland bogs formed and how they grew slowly but surely to be such an intrinsic part of the Irish landscape and a cultural backdrop to so much of rural Ireland. His presentation will describe the ecological and hydrological complexities of a typical raised bog and how Irish scientist have developed some of the most comprehensive techniques for surveying and mapping bog habitats. These techniques are now being used to good effect to quantify bogs as important carbon sinks that can store more carbon than any other terrestrial habitat. Finally, we will look at the methods and results of the recent accelerated raised bog restoration programme that the National Parks and Wildlife Service are implementing, which aims to revitalise our damaged bogs, meet our national commitments within the EU Habitats Directive and help reduce Irelands greenhouse gas emissions.”

Maurice Eakin is a Senior Wetland Ecologist with the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage. He has worked in different capacities within the NPWS since 1999 but for the last five years has spent a lot of his time helping to protect and restore Ireland’s network of designated raised bogs. He is also a keen artist.

This free online event is supported by an award from Kildare Co . Co./Creative Ireland’s 2020 Bursary Awards.

Booking essential. To book visit the eventbritte page: