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Six Thousand Year Old Bog-Oak Erected In Littleton, Co Tipp

Two-Mile-Borris /Littleton district correspondent Mr Gerry Bowe reports:-

On Wednesday August 29th 2018 last, cross-roads in Littleton Village, Thurles, Co. Tipperary has gained an original six to seven-thousand-year-old unique, work of art.

Local butcher Mr Paudie Fitzpatrick has presented to Littleton village; a piece of rare bog-oak which he has been restoring and preserving over many months.

Bog-wood, in this case Oak, is a material from trees that have been buried in peat bogs and preserved from decay by the acidic and anaerobic bog conditions, sometimes for thousands of years. The wood is usually stained brown by tannins dissolved in the bog’s acidic water. Bog-wood may come from any tree species naturally growing near or in bogs, including oak; Quercus – “bog oak”; Pine – “Pinus”; Yew – “Taxus”; Swamp Cypress – “Taxodium”, and Kauri, latter regarded as the most exotic wood in the world – “Agathis”.  Such bog preserved timber remains comparable to some of the world’s most expensive tropical hard woods.

Pictured Centre L to R: Mr Tom Ryan, Mr Paudie Fitzpatrick, Mr Dan Fitzpatrick, & Mr John Darmody taking time out to relax having successfully erected the Bog Oak Art piece in Littleton village, Co. Tipperary.

For the past twenty-eight years, Mr Fitzpatrick together with his wife Karen and family, has been providing a quality meat service, which also includes home deliveries, not just to the village itself but also to the surrounding area. But surely his most unique delivery to date, must be the conveyance of a large, ancient, seven-foot-high oak tree trunk with roots attached; same now perfectly preserved with numerous coatings of Danish oil, followed by intense and passionate sandpapering, to extract its ancient, bog preserved, hidden colours.

What was once left to the elements to decay, has now become a visible symbol and a real reminder of the rich, bog-land chronicle that is Tipperary’s biodiversity. This visible symbol must surely challenge us to try to fully comprehend and preserve our local bogs for environmental, recreational and inspirational purposes. The heathers, ferns and fir tree, planted alongside, are but a trivial reminder of this rich variety of rural bog vegetation.

An artistic and wood-working gene is most definitely ingrained within the Fitzpatrick family. Proof, as if proof was needed, can be quickly observed in the ‘butcher’s block’ that was so patiently and lovingly assembled, piece by piece, from maple wood, by Mr Paudie Fitzpatrick’s son Shane; same undertaken as part of his Leaving Cert woodwork project at Colaiste Mhuire here in Thurles. Shane has rightly been granted an award for this work, with the project remaining on display in the school, to further inspire and encourage new incoming students and school visitors alike.

A massive ‘Thank You’ also to Mr John Darmody, Mr Dan Fitzpatrick and Mr Thomas Ryan; all who helped pour the concrete base and secure the bog oak piece with iron stays, having delivered it safely on a tractor loader.

Positive comments are now pouring in from the many who pass through Littleton village on a daily basis and so to from the villagers who are grateful to Mr Fitzpatrick and family for the patient work and generosity in the donating of this artistic creation to further beautify the already picturesque village. With a new Tidy Towns Committee in formation, this feature makes a most excellent beginning to all future work planned.

In his book (P.58), “The Bogs of Ireland” (John Feehan), the author tells us that “bog is an Irish word, derived from the word for soft; ‘bogach’ means in Irish -‘soft ground.’ As roads become busier and life becomes a constant rush, we might recall that another Irish phrase: “Tog go bog è “, means literally “Take it easy”, or “Slow down”, or “Breathe deep”.  So why not“Tog go bog è “, and take a look around and admire this ancient and unique piece of bog-oak art, which has full certified Littleton, Co. Tipperary origins?

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