Emerald Isle

Irish Bog Oak

Irish and Celtic myths and legends, Irish folklore and Irish fairy tales tales of Ireland

The Blackest of Magic

One of the rarest and most beautiful woods in the world is Irish bog oak. This very ancient kind of wood can be found across Ireland, but is most often recovered from deep peat bogs in the midlands, and can be anywhere from three thousand to eight thousand years old or more. These trees grew, lived and fell in times of legend, witnessing the rise of the Neolithic Fomorians, the battles of the Tuatha Dé Danann and Cú Chulainn's famous death. They are as much a part of the lifeblood of Ireland's heritage as any living being.

Over ten thousand years ago, the great kilometer-thick glaciers began to withdraw at last from Ireland as the brutal reign of the Cailleach, Queen of Winter, finally came to an end. On the lakelands and tundra left behind grew willow and birch pioneer trees around peat swamps, as well as other smaller plants, which became oak, yew, and pine forests, the oldest growth and first of the mighty woodlands.

Whether due to the changing climate as it became cooler and wetter or the return of mankind to these shores, much of these forests gave way to deepening peat bogs and swamps, and when they fell they were often preserved in the acidic environment of the bogs, growing darker and changing in texture with each passing century.

Irish bog oak is one of the rarest woods on earth today, noted and remarked upon for its beauty and intricate swirling grain. When it is first unerthed it is soft and pliable, but after being exposed to the air for a while it becomes rock-hard while turning darker.

In older times it was used for roof-beams and as part of candles to light family cottages. Wood carvers and the makers of jewellery value it greatly, and today magnificent sculptures of Irish bog oak adorn homes and offices around the world.

The enormous bog oak log displayed below was found near the location marked on the map!

Further Folk and Faerie Tales of Ireland

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