Visit Galway’s Living Bog and you will be brought to Patches Garden, the former home (and miracle garden) of Patch Cronin.
Old Patch, a bachelor bog farmer, lived and worked here in the 1800’s and early 1900’s, with no roads to, or from, his holding. They say you did not leave water when you left the main road (now the N63) to walk the few KMs to Patches Garden… You never touched hard ground, as it was upon the bog you walked, as near as any of us got to being Jesus Christ…
Patch was a farmer on the bog, capable of growing fruit and vegetables all year round on his small island. People were in awe that he could grow and harvest fruit and veg, as bogs were inhospitable places where growth such as this never happened. Yet, here was man, in the middle of the bog, able to grow. They didn’t know back then he lived upon an till island… Anyways, Patch cut turf along the edges of his holding for heat. Today you can still see where he hand cut turf – long before the onset of machines to the bogs in the later part of the 20th century. Patch’s home became a ‘rambling house’ where neighbours would gather in the evening for story-telling, card-playing, singing and music and maybe even the odd drop of Poitín.
Locals tell of winding trails across and over the high, wet bog to Patch’s Garden, saying you would walk a full mile from every corner of the bog to Patch’s Garden without a grain of sand or soil touching your feet.
The house and outbuildings (recorded on ancient maps as far back as 1846) stood here until the 1950’s when Mother Nature began to take them back… It is now a community park giving you great views of a restored raised bog.
The island where Patch’s Garden stands is an unusual feature of this bog – a raised till island topped with soil completely surrounded by deep peat. It was formed as glaciers retreated 10,000 years ago, leaving behind mounds of ground up material.
The lakes began to silt up and vegetate, becoming fens then bogs. Where the peat did not rise over the till, it left an island in the middle of the bog. On other bogs, some islands were long, allowing railways and roads to be built on them, or villages or townlands to be named after them, but here, it became Patches Garden!
When The Living Bog started its work in the local community, Patches Garden became a hot topic, with locals keen to make this old Ramblin’ House site a place where visitors could once again congregate.
Thanks to the efforts of Paul Connaughton, Maura Hannon and a dedicated bog committee at Galway Teleworks, these plans became a reality when Galway County Council granted permission to develop the site in 2020.
Patches Garden will be turned into a park where visitors can learn all about bog life past, present and future, before setting off on bog walks – this time with their feet touching solid ground thanks to modern turf cutters walks, boardwalks and trails!