Irish Peat Society

Dr. Catherine O'Connell
Irish Peat Society
Irish Peatland Conservation Council
Bog of Allen Nature Centre
Lullymore, Rathangan
Co. Kildare
e-mail: bogs (at)

Mr. Pat Fitzgerald
Bord na Móna p.l.c.
Main Street
Newbridge, Co. Kildare
e-mail: pat.fitzgerald (at)

Annual Report 2018

In 2018, the Irish Peatland Society arranged a meeting focusing on new peatland research being undertaken in Northern Ireland. The two-day meeting consisted of a field trip, an AGM and a research seminar. The meeting was based in the Cuilcagh Mountain Park, home to a blanket bog habitat, which straddles the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The AGM and seminar were held in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh.

On the field excursion, participants were informed about three major projects underway in Northern Ireland: Collaborative Action for the Natura Network (CANN), Cooperating Across Borders for Biodiversity (CABB) and Understanding Blanket Bog Ecosystems (QUBBES). We were also given a demonstration of restoration works completed on part of the Cuilcagh Mountain blanket bog, which had been cut using “sausage” peat machines.

Important information and new skills will result from these three projects, including an analysis of the complex relationship between plant life and hydrology on blanket bogs and the impacts this has on water quality and runoff. In addition, the projects will examine ways to offset the effects of nitrogen deposition on peatlands and how to ensure that the restoration of peatlands makes them resilient to climate change.

At the seminar, there were invited talks as follows: “Revision of the IPS Strategy for Responsible Peatland Management” by Professor Jack Rieley, “Conservation Status of Peatlands in Northern Ireland” by Dr Richard Weyl, “The CANN Project” by Dr Trish Fox, “The QUBBES Project” by Francis Mackin and Sorcha Cahill, and “Peatlands and Climate Change” by Dr Florence Renou-Wilson. The seminar was chaired by Donal Clarke.

Annual Report 2017

The Irish Peatland Society ran a very successful two day field trip and conference on the theme of People and Nature: enjoying the Land or Impacting the Environment? The meeting took place on the 17th and 18th of October and included a field trip to a selection of sites in the Wicklow Mountains located on the east coast of Ireland close to the capital of Dublin that are being impacted by visitors. These included: Glenmalure where the group where shown how issues of access across private farmland to Lugnaquilla Mountain were resolved through the provision of an agreed access route which is maintained by the local farmer; Wicklow Way Walking Trail to see the site of an accident and to hear about a compensation court case taken by a walker involved in the accident against the state; Glenmacnass Waterfall where visitors impact on national park land as the area is unmanaged and Fancy Mountain/Luggala where visitors are trampling privately-owned blanket bog habitat as they climb the mountain.  The trip was made possible thanks to the co-operation of Mountaineering Ireland and in particular Helen Lawless who designed the itinerary.

On the 18th October a conference was held and the Society heard talks by three experts on the theme of access. We learned that it is essential for those involved in providing access to peatland sites to ensure that they undertake regular monitoring and reporting on the condition of visitor facilities. This includes maintaining paperwork and diaries of actions taken that can be examined by authorities should an incident occur. Furthermore the Society were warned about the power of social media in attracting huge volumes of visitors to sensitive peatland habitat cannot be under-estimated and the Society heard about the example of the “Stairway to Heaven” social media phenomenon in the Cuilcagh Mountains of Co. Fermanagh which brought thousands of visitors to the mountains and which has resulted in extensive damage and habitat loss in this Special Area of Conservation. Thanks to all the field guides and speakers who combined to make this one of the great Irish Peatland Society trips that will be remembered because it occurred in the aftermath of Storm “Ophelia” on a beautiful sunny day in the Wicklow Uplands. All praise to the Glenmalure Lodge Hotel who provided candlelit breakfast and dinner beside a comfy log fire despite the cuts in electricity. The whole experience was magical.

Members of the Irish Peatland Society attended the International Peatland Society Meeting in Aberdeen presenting posters and papers on a variety of topics relating to peatlands in Ireland. In addition the Irish Peatland Society developed a new logo which aims to reflect the fusion of interests of peatland conservation, management, development and culture in the society.


Annual Report 2014

The main event of the Irish Peat Society in 2014 was the organisation of the Annual Meeting, Study Tour and Seminar to the Slieve Bloom Mountains in Co. Offaly. This two day event took place in October and was based in the Tullamore Court Hotel in Tullamore town.

Over 50 members took part in the field meeting, seminars and workshops over the two days. On the first day the group visited a variety of peatland sites in the Slieve Bloom Mountains where we met with experts from the National Parks and Wildlife Service and Coillte to see the work being done on blanket bog afforestation, habitat management, visitor control and the monitoring of birds of conservation concern including Red Grouse and Hen Harrier. Site visited included the Ridge of Cappard, Monicknew, The Cut and the Glenlahan LIFE restoration site. In the evening the group had a tour of the Tullamore Dew Distillery with dinner and music.

On the second day following the AGM, members heard talks from Dr John Feehan on the relationship between People and Peatlands and Conor O’Raghallaigh gave an update on the National Peatland Strategy. These were followed by two workshops on Managing Upland Peatlands given by Dermot Tiernan and Community Conservation Education by Catherine O’Connell.

Throughout the year the Committee met on seven occasions to work on the upcoming meeting in Tullamore 2015 which involved developing a conference theme, master classes, poster sessions, fireside sessions, field trips, web site, social programme and schools competitions. 

The Irish Peat Society also continued to update our Facebook site during the year with relevant news:

Annual Report 2013

The main event of the Irish Peat Society in 2013 was the organization of the Annual Meeting, Study Tour and Seminar to Killarney in Co. Kerry. The two day event took place in October and was based in the beautiful Lake Hotel in Killarney town. It was the red deer rutting season which added much to this wonderful location. Over 50 members took part in the meeting over the two days. On the first day the group visited a variety of peatland sites in Kerry which showcased work being done on blanket bog education and management. Site visits were undertaken on Sheheree Bog SAC, Glencar Bog SAC and carbon study site, Killarney National Park Education Centre, Dromalonhurt Restoration site, Kerry Bog Village Museum and the Natterjack Toad farm management project.

On the second day following the AGM, members heard talks about the Raised Bog Conservation Assessment, the National Peatland Conservation Strategy, the Freshwater Pearl Mussel, The Upland Blanket Bog Survey, The Stacks Mountains and the Management of Blanket Bog Uplands using Dexter Cattle.

The Irish Peat Society continued to update our Facebook site during the year with relevant news.

Annual Report 2011

Last October the Irish Peat Society (IrPS) returned to the scene of the 2008 Congress when the 6th Annual General Meeting of the Irish Peat Society was held in the Court Hotel, Tullamore in conjunction with the annual seminar and field trip.The executive committee met several times to plan the event and decided that as Ireland is currently developing a National Peatland Strategy, the IrPS should use this as the theme for its annual get-together.

The two day event took place on 18th and 19th October and was well attended by a variety of stakeholders including state, industry, private and NGO interests. The workshop theme was “Towards the development of a Peatland Strategy for Ireland”. The structure of the event included a one day field trip focusing on Clara Bog in Co. Offaly which is a designated Special Area of Conservation in Ireland. The participants in the workshop were briefed on location by Jim Ryan of the National Parks and Wildlife Service about the habitat importance of the site and the challenges that damage to the site in the past now present for current and future management. We also had a very interesting discussion with David Wilson on the Greenhouse Gas Budget for the bog. At lunch time we visited Clara House and were shown a peat balneology treatment and were also taken on a tour of the Clara Bog Visitor Centre which opened in 2011. From there the group travelled to a Bord na Móna site that is being developed as a relocation option for private turf-cutters no longer permitted to continue on SAC’s such as Clara Bog.

In the evening there was a very enjoyable gala dinner with peated-whiskey tasting in the Tullamore Court Hotel!

On the second day six papers were delivered to participants. We were very fortunate to have two members from other national committees of the International Peat Society speak at our conference.   Tarja Vayrynen gave a paper on the Development of the Finnish Peatland Strategy while Gerfried Caspers gave a paper on Peatland Management in Germany. In addition the President of the International Peat Society -  Donal Clarke gave a paper on the Strategy for Responsible Peatland Management. Dr Florence Renou-Wilson gave a paper about the newly published Environmental Protection Agency’s BOGLAND report, Dr Catherine O’Connell of the Irish Peatland Conservation Council gave a talk on the Lessons Learned in Canada and the final paper was delivered by Conor Skehan, the Chair of the Peatlands Council entitled Developing a Peatland Strategy for Ireland – Take Home Messages.

Earlier in the year members of the Irish Peat Society attended the IPS meeting in Quebec. This very successful meeting showcased a diverse range of peatland projects from all over the world which provided valuable material and ideas that members can use in Ireland.

Dr Catherine O’Connell,
Chair, Irish Peat Society

Pat Fitzgerald
Secretary, Irish Peat Society

Annual Report 2009

The 4th Annual General Meeting of the Irish Peat Society and the annual conference were held in the Abbeyleix Manor Hotel in Abbeyleix, Co. Laois on Tuesday, 20 October 2009.  The theme of the conference was Abbeyleix Bog Restoration and Conservation. The very good attendance of over 50 people was given a report on the Society’s activities during the year, in particular in relation to the work of the Executive Committee in developing a Business Plan and in participating in the IPS project to write a Strategy for Responsible Peatland Management (SRPM).

Following the AGM in the morning, the first part of the day was given over to a walk on Killamuck (Abbeyleix) Bog which is a partially drained raised bog undergoing rehabilitation. The focus of the field walk was on the peat forming habitats present and the effects of drain-blocking using peat dams on the hydrology of the raised bog.

Following the walk, a number of presentations were given providing background information on Abbeyleix Bog including an outline of vegetation surveys and management work undertaken to date, the role of the local community and the opinion of independent ecologists on the project. Mr. Jim Ryan of the National Parks and Wildlife Service also provided an update on the status of Raised Bog Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) in Ireland. The presentations and the field visit led to lively discussions on future management issues and the potential to enhance the value of the site to the local community in terms of education and nature awareness. The session was chaired by Chairperson of the Irish Peat Society, Dr. Catherine O’Connell and there were members of a number of relevant agencies present including Coillte (national forestry company), National Parks and Wildlife Service, BirdWatch Ireland, Irish Peatland Conservation Council, ecological consultants and local community representatives.

Despite a promise of rain, the day was mostly sunny and the good turn-out of Irish bog men and women led to a thoroughly enjoyable event. The Irish Peat Society would like to thank everyone involved for their support and contributions.

Annual Report 2008

As in recent years, the activities of the Irish Peat Society last year again focussed mainly on preparatory work for Congress-08 that culminated in a very successful Congress in Tullamore in June. Almost 600 people attended the event from 30 different countries spanning each of the continents except Antarctica. Using the sporting analogy we believe that the Tullamore Congress “raised the bar” for the next Congress in four years time. We received numerous messages of thanks and congratulations and everyone involved should feel good and proud at such a satisfactory outcome.

The positive feedback on content and organisation was very pleasing to the Organising Committee. The reaction to the memory-stick proceedings was generally good and Field trips, Accompanying Persons’ tours and the Post Congress tour were very well received. A number of social and cultural events were also included in the rather full programme for the week. Due in particular to the very generous level of sponsorship received towards the financing of the Congress, the Organising Committee was in a position to cover its costs and produce a surplus for the Irish Peat Society.

On behalf of the Irish Peat Society I wish to express our sincerest gratitude to all who helped to make the 13th International Peat Congress held in Tullamore last June so successful and memorable. Your support was very helpful. In particular our thanks must go to the IPS Secretariat as well as to all those colleagues who participated in the Scientific Committee and reviewed submitted presentations and posters and finally to the people who took on the often challenging role of chairing a session. Whereas it would have been very difficult to stage the Congress without the financial assistance of our many generous sponsors, it would have been impossible to run the activities and proceedings without your good selves. The Irish Organising Committee is forever grateful.

At the IPS Annual Assembly held in Tullamore on the final day of the Congress, the outgoing Chairman of the Irish Peat Society Donal Clarke was elected President of the International Peat Society. This is a signal honour for Ireland’s peat community and the Irish Peat Society wish to congratulate Donal and wish him well in his stewardship of the IPS over the next four years.

Also at the Annual Assembly Catherine Farrell was elected as Chair of Commission V. The Irish Peat Society is also honoured by this event and extends its good wishes to Catherine in her endeavours on peatland after-use on behalf of the IPS.

The 3rd Annual General Meeting of the Irish Peat Society was held in the Radisson Royal Hotel Dublin on Tuesday 21 October 2008. The moderate attendance was given a report on the Society’s activities during the year, in particular in relation to the staging of the 13th International Peat Congress in Tullamore in June.

The AGM was immediately followed by a seminar, the theme of which was “Turf-cutting on Natura 2000 sites - problems and solutions”. The programme of presentations included the EU perspective, the farmer/landholder viewpoint and a rather stark outline of the Irish situation in relation to the conservation management of raised bogs given by National Parks and Wildlife.

A new Executive Committee was elected for a four-year term. The Officers are: Chairman, Catherine O’Connell; Vice-Chairman, Catherine Farrell; Secretary-Treasurer, Pat Fitzgerald. The other members are: Caitrona Douglas, Roy Tomlinson and Donal Clarke. John Feehan decided not to go forward for re-election to the Executive Committee and the Irish Peat Society wishes to record its appreciation of the service rendered by both Donal Clarke and John Feehan who are stepping down from the positions of Chairman and Vice-chairman respectively.