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Living Bog proves climate policy can have cultural impact

At the centre of Carrownagappul Bog, surrounded by deep peat, lies a small island topped with soil that is known to locals in Mountbellew as Patch’s Garden.

In the early 1900s, a man named Patch Cronin lived and worked on the bog. At that time, there were no roads linking his home to the outside world, but his small plot allowed him to grow fruit and vegetables and, of course, cut turf.

Nowadays, a local bog committee oversees the rewetted and restored land of Carrownagappul. One of its spearheads is Paul Connaughton, the former Fine Gael TD and Minister who cut turf from the bog for decades.

When it was announced in 2011 that measures would be introduced to limit the practice across the country, there was outrage among the community of Mountbellew.

Twelve years on, they promote the bog as an environmental attraction and welcome students and tourists to experience its wildlife year-round.

“Time will always do that, you know,” Paul says. “When I was a member of Dáil Éireann for a couple of years, before I left, some of the biggest public meetings I was ever at in East Galway was about the bogs. At that time, it was so installed into people’s minds that not alone did they not want to talk to the officers of the National Parks and Wildlife [Service], butthey nearly got to the stage where they’d hang every TD in the constituency if they thought they weren’t working on their behalf. It is the most intractable problem I have come across in 35 years.”

Bog restoration is a topic once more at the forefront of Irish climate policy. After drawn out negotiations, an agreement was reached on the EU’s Nature Restoration Law (NRL) last month to ensure that member states will have to implement measures to restore 20% of depleted EU land and sea areas by 2030.

Caption: An aerial view of Carrownagappul Bog.

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