13 Aug 2022

'From tae to midges' - The A to Z of the bog

'From tae to midges' - The A to Z of the bog

'From tae to midges' - The A to Z of the bog

Anyone who has ever worked on the bog knows the pain and suffering and small bit of satisfaction it brings. 

The bog has a language all it's own and we have put together the definitive A to Z so you won't feel left out if you are heading 'to do the turf' for the first time


Bog of Allen -  The big bog slap bang in the middle of Ireland
Ashes - One of the side effects of turf burning is the constant cleaning. 


Bog - the place where the turf is

Bank of turf - the starting point for all the trouble coming your way

Barrow - Essential piece of equipment needed to wheel the turf out to the side of the road.

Brown turf - Useless stuff. Burns too fast and gives no heat but is easy to save.

Bord na Móna - the State company responsible for harvesting peat and is now pulling out.

Briquettes - Fancy turf.. shur why do you think it has a french name.

Bog holes - the only thing that made going to the bog worthwhile as a child - jumping over (often into) bog holes.

Bags - plastic farm fertilizer bags caught on in 1980s and is now central to the season. Led to phrases such as 'are you baggin it', 'where would I get bags' or 'have you it bagged yet?'

Burn - Sun burn after a very hot day. A bog tan is usually only from the waist up


Cut - Another one popular in questions from the neighbours.. 'have you it cut yet', 'when are you getting it cut' and often 'we've ours cut long ago'.

Clamp of turf, clamping - Method of building a clamp and and art form to some, bog cotton.

Catching - When cutting with a slane someone had to catch the sods thrown up by the turf cutter.

Cleaning - Banks had to be cleaned in the old days to pave the way for spreading the turf.

Cuckoo - One of the natural sounds heard frequently on the bog. Will wreck your head after a while.

Clods - Small bits of turf good for starting a fire.

Chimney - Peat fires are prone to coating the inside of chimney pipe making the risk of a chimney fire bigger.

Calamine Lotion - creamy stuff you'd put on your back or head after a bad dose of bog sunburn.


Dust - never a good thing because someone would always say, 'it'll turn to dust if he doesn't get it home soon'.

Dog - Always had great craic but always managed to end up in the bog hole.

Drawing - That satisfying feeling of bouncing along the bog road with a box trailer full of turf, heading for home with another year of the sod complete.

Dump - Councils used to locate dumps in the bog now the take people to court for dumping on the bog.

Drain - Jumping them great craic - falling in not much fun unless you pushed your bigger brother in.


Eatin alive - By the midges and horseflies but also by your ould lad or uncle for not building the footings perfectly.


Footings - small mounds of turf built to dry turf especially if there has been a hot summer.

Footing the turf - method of building footings - an art form to some a nightmare to others.

Frogs - your distraction as a child on the bog.

Fire - what you do after you've save the turf or the dreaded bog fire that threatened the harvest.

Furze - see gorse below. 


Gripe fork - Pronounced krape in some places - used for getting the turf into heaps on the bank or into the trailer or into the shed

Greenhouse gases - an unfortunate byproduct of burning turf.

Gorse - The unmistakable yellow bush dotted across the bogs of Ireland. They, unfortunately, catch fire from time to time in dry weather.

Gloves - a rarity in the bog, wearing them would raise questions about your toughness.


Heather - ubiquitous on Irish bogs.

Heat - It could fierce hot on the bog leading to the bog tan. (See above) 

Hole - as in bog hole. 

Hopper - The machine used to cut turf and now a measurement of how much turf has been cut

Home - Another one popular in bog related phrases. 'Have you it home yet', 'time to bring it home', 'it's at home long ago'.

High bank - plots used to be separated between low banks and high banks.

Horsefly - silent but deadly insect whose sting is a curse.


Ice cream / lolly - A small reward on the way home from the bog - 99, Brunch, Choc Ice, Ice Berger, Tub, Golly Bar, Super Split, Little Devil, Loop The Loop, Cornetto, Funny Feet, Chilly Willies, Dracula, Jumbo, That-A-Way (15p Back In The Day) and of course The Fat Frog. (not to be confused with the alcholic beverage of the same name)


Jump - There is always things to be jumping: Drains, bog holes. Just don't fall in!


Killed - Not as in murder, although it comes close at times. Killed as in 'me back is killed from this turning',  'I'm killed out wheelin, you do a bit would ya.'


Load - A tractor-trailer of turf also a measurement of how much you have cut and saved and how much you need to get through the winter.  


Midges - Vicious little things and you often hear, 'the midges are aten me alive lads'. 


Next year - Son: 'I'm not doing this again next year'. Ould lad: 'Y'are or and don't go crying to your mother coz she wants more cut next year for her sister Mary'.


Ould fella - the man that is responsible for this misery.

Outdoors - What's good about the great outdoors if you're stuck on the bog turning turf for a day.


Porteach (Irish for bog).

Peat - the word for turf mole used by gardeners, Bord na Móna and RTÉ.

Puncture - the bicycle got a puncture on the way up or way back from the bog (nightmare scenario if you had to walk home); tractor got a puncture on the way home with the turf or on the way to the bog; barrow got a puncture on the bog meaning you had to start carrying out for the rest of the day by hand. 


Quix (Irish made washing up liquid used to scrub the dirt out from under the fingernails after a day during turf). 

Turbary rights - legal term as to whether you have rights to cut turf on plot of bog - gold dust in some parts of Ireland. Legally, you'll never own part of a bog for turfcutting purpose you con only retain turbary rights which can be inherited - often a bone of contention when the Will is opened - real problem if there is no Will.

Rain - the enemy but great fuel for complaining.

Row - the seemingly unending line of turf that needs fecking turning, footing, drawing...the whole lot! 

Rows - plenty of them on the bog.

Range - the monster that has to be fed with turf all winter in all weather to heat the water and the house.


Sod - a single piece of turf.

Slane or slean - the traditional iconic tool for cutting turf.

Spit - measurement used to gauge depth of a bog hold when cutting old style with a slane. (see above)

Spread - turf has to be spread on the bank by machine or barrow to allow it to dry.

Spawn as in frog - Loads of this around too but no good for the range

Sun - friend as long as you don't get too much.

Sausage machine - popular in the 1980s until fellas realised it was destroying banks.

Stack - (see clamp above).

Shed - The home sweet home for the turf until its incinerated.


Turf - If we have to explain this one, you are in the wrong place. 

Turning - Something that needs to be done with turf and leads to questions such as, 'have you it turned yet', 'getting a bit late to turn it'.

Throw - time to throw it in (to the shed). If it's left too long, someone will ask, 'have you not thrown it in yet' even though they can clearly see you haven't

Tadpoles - vital distraction for children on the bog.

Tae - vital on the bog with the sandwiches and to get some rest from the toil.

Talking -  The quicker you'd stop talking the quicker you'd get it home.


Underpants - The first sight you saw when you stood up take a break from the turning.


Venus flytrap - The bog is home to three of the native plant carnivores called sundews which are a distant cousin of the Venus flytrap. (I bet you didn't know that)


Wheelbarrow - (see Barrow above)

Wind - A friend on the bog. Nothing like a cool breeze on a hot day on the bog.

Wellies - nothing worse than fall into a drain with wellies on and the water gets into the boots and stays wet all day.

Welt - what the turf does to your hands. 


X-ray - a day of turning turf might make you feel like you need an x-ray for what feels like a broken back.


Yes - The word you are least likely to use when ask if you are going to the bog.

Young lad / Young one: The term used for children working on the bog by fiends of the ould lad who don't know, or pretend not to know any of their names.


Zzzzzzzz - After a long day on the bog or after bringing home the turf....the bed...sleep.

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