Ireland’s bogs have always had a sense of otherworldliness. They often formed the natural boundaries and borders between ancient kingdoms, and were seen as ‘liminal’ spaces where the natural order of things was different and occasionally dangerous. Archaeological and accidental discoveries over the years of votive offerings, including human remains, has reinforced the otherworldly aspect in the national consciousness. However, somewhat paradoxically, bogs have also had an entirely practical aspect to Irish lives over the centuries. Though today they are chiefly exploited for peat-turf fuel, in the past they would have been hunting grounds for wildfowl, places noted for their preservative qualities for goods like butter, and important sources of useful plants and building materials like reeds for thatch, and more.
However, the bogs were, and still are, undoubtedly highly dangerous to traverse without proper roads. From the time of the earliest settlements in Ireland to the present day, the difficulty of constructing safe routes through the bog has challenged communities. One of the most remarkable solutions is the Corlea Trackway. This trackway (also known as a togher) is over 2,000 years old, dating to 148 BC. It was made of oak planks laid transversely on large parallel runners that were laid lengthways. It stretched for over 2km (1.25 miles), crossing into the neighbouring townland of Derraghan.
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