of the bog spotted long ago
Thomas Rawson, the improving farmer from Athy, estimated
in 1807 that 41,935 of this county's 200,000 acres were
bog, and a couple of years later Richard Griffith of Millicent
was commissioned to survey the county's bog's.
He reported "the only attempt of any consequence towards
reclaiming the bog is on the north-east side of the Lane
Bog called Betaghstown, where 85 statue acres has been reclaimed
for the Bishop of Kildare".
The Parliamentary report of 1814 confirmed that in Kildare
the peat soil exceeded 2,830,000 acres, and various plans
of draining had been devised, but never carried into effect
upon a large scale.
Some people objected to the cutting of turf as being wasteful
to the surface, while others objected to the cultivation
as diminishing the supply of fuel.
All such objections were regarded as frivolous. To exhaust
the bogs, "the surveyor believed, "would be to
confer a blessing in the country by inducing the inhabitants
to search for fuel in the bowls of the earth, rather than
to obtain it by wasting its surface."
In that same period Mr & Mrs. C.S. Hall, in their Ireland
-Its Scenery & Character, gave a detailed description
of the harvesting of turf; the cutting, spreading, footing,
ricking, clamping and drawing, and it was illustrated with
a diagram indicating how the turf was stacked. The couple
also visited "Poll the Pishogue" who lived in
a hut made of turf in the bog of Allen: "Nothing could
exceed in misery the appearance of her hovel raised something
in the form of a cone.
"Her goat browsed on the grass that sprang from the
roof. The interior was so full of smoke, and a stranger
could neither see nor breathe, but it was warm and dry,
for while the rain could enter in one or two places, it
could run out as quickly as it came in."
Poll was noted for her powers of divination, her love-powders
and match-,making. and her many pishogues.
An improvement in rural living conditions came in 1898 when
responsibility for the construction of cottages for labourers
was given to the new rural district councils, and labourers
received the right to vote for members of those bodies.
It was the first major public housing enterprise in the
British Isles, and was mostly effective in Munster and Leinster.
By 1921, some 40,000 cottages had been built of brick or
stone with slate roofs on small holdings of 0.2 acres scattered
along the roadsides.
The vulnerability of the bogs was evident twenty years ago
when a writer in the Irish Times predicted that "the
midland bogs would be worked out long before the end of
this century. The great mounds of peat are being eaten away
at a rate that hardly gives time to consider the long-term
It was estimated that in the previous two years more than
half of the raised bogs actually listed for conservation
have been drained and developed.
While many of the poorer people lived in sub-standard conditions
in the bogs and elsewhere, the retainers of the gentry were
housed in model cottages, or in lodges on the estates. The
most visible of such were the gate lodges at the entrance
to the enclosed demesnes, fine examples in this county are
those designed in the early 18th century by Batty Langley
at Castletown, Celbridge and Leixlip castle. They have been
seen as "gothic temples".
Some of the racing lodges on the Curragh, described in 1997
by Guy St John Williams in this book of that name, are,
or were, also important architecturally.
French Furze Cottage and Brownstone Cottage were both attractive
thatched dwellings, dating to the 19th century, while the
imposing the Boer War, and was never completed as a two-storied
Both Athgarvan Lodge and Rathbridge Cottage were the also
thatched, while Waterford Lodge and Rathbridge Manor were
The latter was described "as situated on ground that
falls away, like a bastion, a fortress, deterring imaginary
invaders from the bad lands beyond," while Waterford
Lodge had been built by John Whaley, a founding father of
the Turf Club, and a brother of the notorious 'Buck' who
on a wager visited Jerusalem in 1788 and returned within
a year. His house, 86 St. Stephen's Green, now belongs to
Courtesy of Con Costello and The Leinster Leader