The Living Bog has been both delighted and honoured to have played a small role in the creation of one of the finest books about bogs ever produced. ‘Tapestry of Light’ by renowned Birr, Co Offaly nature photographer Tina Claffey was released to widespread critical and commercial acclaim in October 2017, on Artisan House books. It is a stunning book, the ideal gift for anyone with more than a passing interest in the wonderful world of Irish nature and our native peatlands, which are among the world’s oldest near-natural eco-systems.
We met Tina early on in the Living Bog project. She is a vastly experienced nature photographer with an innate love for Ireland’s bogs, peatlands and wetlands. She grew up in Offaly, surrounded by bogs, but her journey to capture the bogs of Ireland in her unique style was helped greatly by a bog walk by legendary Offaly ecologist, geologist, botanist, author and broadcaster Dr John Feehan. For almost 10 years prior to this, Tina lived and worked in pristine wilderness areas in Botswana, and this experience awakened an appreciation of the natural world of her home country. Since her meeting with John, she started to publish her photography online and it was there where we encountered her first.
Since we got to know her, Tina has photographed many of Ireland’s most important raised bogs, including some of the Living Bog’s 12 project sites. Her beautiful images reveal the commonplace as something new and exotic.
Her unique perspective of the flora and fauna of the unspoilt raised bogs and wet woodlands of the Irish midlands are celebrated on every page of Tapestry of Light – Ireland’s bogs and wetlands as never seen before.
This 156 page, highly-illustrated and beautifully designed hard-back book shows bogs in a new light, and it would be a great gift for anyone who appreciates not just bogs but Irish nature and the environment. The book will ensure that the reader will never view Irish boglands in quite the same way again.
The Living Bog have been delighted to have worked with Tina, and she was at the official launch of The Living Bog in Clara on Friday, September 15 whereupon she presented the Minister for Heritage, Culture and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys TD with one of the first copies of the book. The now former Minister of the Department was most impressed with the book and wished Tina every success in the future.
A week later and Tina struck again, presenting no less a person than the President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins, with two special copies of the book at the National Ploughing Championships, held in Screggan, Tullamore, Co Offaly. The President was delighted to meet Tina and her son Tristan again. The last time they met, at the launch of the Community Wetlands Forum in Abbeyleix, they presented him with a beautiful framed photograph of a round-leaved sundew, which he told Tina at the Ploughing, now hangs proudly in the Áras.
Tapestry of Light was officially launched in Dublin on October 12 2017 by Dr Matthijs Schouten. In case you were wondering about the title ‘Tapesty of Light’, well, it is taken from the eponymous poem by John Sheahan, the renowned musician and composer with the famous folk group, The Dubliners, and that great man was also at the launch.
The book includes a foreword by Dr. John Feehan and is published by bespoke publishers Artisan House in Connemara.
The Dublin launch was a well-attended event, and it saw ‘Tapestry of Light; pick up some very positive newspaper coverage, with The Irish Times, the Farmers Journal, and Irish Examiner in particular writing about the book. Later in the year, both the Times and Examiner would recommend the book in their ‘end of year’ lists.
You can order the book online HERE and it is also available in all good book stores.
To keep up to date with Tina and to see her excellent photography daily, she has a TWITTER page HERE and a FACEBOOK page HERE
MOONEY GOES WILD
RTÉ Radio 1, broadcast date: Sunday, 12 November 2017
The Living Bog was the subject of a special report on RTÉ Radio 1’s ‘Mooney Goes Wild’ programme – Ireland’s biggest nature show. Derek Mooney’s roving reporter, the legendary Eanna Ní Lamhna came to Clara Bog for the broadcast, and interviewed Ronan Casey of ‘The Living Bog’, Dr John Feehan and Tina Claffey.
You can listen back to the broadcast HERE
Sample press coverage for ‘Tapestry of Light’:
The Irish Times
Online feature HERE
Best Nature Books of the Year, by Michael Viney, HERE
Feature on the book HERE
Feature on the book HERE (log-in may be required)
Clara Bog Visitor Centre Exhibition
In the run up to the launch, for most of September and October, some photographs from Tina’s ‘Elements’ exhibition were on display at the Clara Bog Nature Reserve Visitor Centre in Clara, Co Offaly. The exhibition has since moved. Check out Tina’s FACEBOOK page for more info on it, the book and for daily updates featuring wonderful bog photography.
The President and the Sundew
At present there are NO visitor facilities at Sharavogue Bog SAC. Most of the bog is in private ownership so unsupervised visits are not advised, encouraged or allowed.
The bog is wet and dangerous, a constantly shifting mass of peat full of bog pools, deep and deceiving Sphagnum lawns and more dangers than you can shake a stick at.
The LIFE project will host open days on Sharavogue over the duration of the project, and local community events and and guided tours will take place on the bog in the near future.
Information on these will be posted here, on the events page and on the Local and Community Page. You can also keep up to date on any events on Sharavogue Bog and our other project sites by following and liking our social media. The Living Bog FACEBOOK page is updated daily, as is the project TWITTER page
Should you wish to visit Sharavogue Bog for research purposes, you can contact the NPWS via www.npws.ie
There is plenty to do and plenty to see in the area close to Sharavogue Bog, and the hidden gem that is Birr is only a short distance away.
Formerly known as Parsonstown, Birr is one of the most historic and picturesque towns in Ireland – a jewel in the midlands – and is well worth a visit.
Birr is a designated Heritage Town with a carefully preserved Georgian heritage, of wide streets and elegant buildings. It is an ideal centre for touring the midlands, with everything from Birr Castle to the ‘Leviathan of Parsonstown’ (an astronomical telescope – at one stage the world’s biggest) to the Georgian Mills to the Workhouse to the parks along the River Camcor vying to keep you in the town. The first ever All-Ireland Hurling Final was played at Hoare’s Field in Birr (now a Tesco site) in 1888 between Tipperary and Galway.
Birr Castle Gardens and Science Centre
Birr Castle has become one of Ireland’s must-see attractions in recent years. As Birr Castle Gardens and Science Centre, it is a place where history, nature and science collide.
Allow yourself plenty of time to explore Birr Castle’s spectacular Gardens and fascinating Science Centre. For many years the Parsons family have invited the public to explore one of the most extraordinary places in Ireland. Created over generations it is an environmental and scientific time capsule, and if you are on the ‘Ireland’s Ancient East’ tour, it is a place you cannot miss.
Regardless of the time of year you visit, the award winning gardens won’t disappoint with their rare and exotic plants. The gardens are home to an abundance of rare plants, collected by the Earls of Rosse on their travels around the world over the last 150 years. Within the 50 hectares you will find the world’s tallest box hedges, over 40 champion trees, over 2000 species of plant as well as rivers, lake and waterfalls.
At the Science Centre, you travel back to the time when Birr Castle was a hub of scientific discovery and innovation, the third Earl was building the great telescope and his wife Mary was practising her photography. Later, their son Charles Parsons was inventing the steam turbine, which changed the face of seafaring and led to the invention of the jet engine. The interactive centre reveals the wonders of early photography, engineering and astronomy with a special emphasis on the brilliant design and assembly of the world famous Great Telescope.
The Great Telescope, designed and built by the third Earl of Rosse in the early 1840s, it was the largest telescope in the world. With this telescope, he discovered the spiral nature of some of the galaxies, and from 1845-1914, anyone wishing to witness this phenomenon had to come to Birr. This ‘leviathan’ as it is named, remains in the centre of the Demesne as Ireland’s greatest scientific wonder and represents a masterpiece of human creative genius – you can’t miss it!
Of course, kids also love the Castle. All you budding knights and princesses will find themselves lost in a world of imagination in the epic Treehouse Adventure Area. The playground features Ireland’s largest treehouse along with a bouncy pillow, sandpits and a hobbit hut. And while they’re busy in the Treehouse Adventure area, you deserve a coffee and a browse around the gift shop – and everyone’s happy!
Birr Vintage Week
In July/early August the town comes alive as it celebrates our collective past with the highly-rated Birr Vintage Week, one of the great Irish town festivals. 2018 will be the 50th year of the Festival and the celebrations planned for the 50th anniversary should be spectacular!
For more, check out:
BIRR VINTAGE WEEK AND ARTS FESTIVAL
BIRR HISTORICAL SOCIETY
BIRR THEATRE & ARTS CENTRE
BIRR PHOTOGRAPHY GROUP
Offaly County Council have an extensive website www.offaly.ie which features excellent Heritage and Arts and Culture coverage.