Peat Peddlers, Killarney, Ireland

Special Collections > Keystone Slides
tiff scanned file from original glass slide
Ireland has some coal fields. But by far the most of the Irish use peat for fuel. It is not nearly so good a fuel as coal, but fortunately Ireland has no severely cold weather. In this view you see the little donkey carts piled high with blocks of peat, topped with bags full of peat. It would appear that the donkeys have heavy loads, but peat is very light so that a cartload pulls easily even over the rough Irish roads. The picture here shown was taken in the village of Killarney near the lakes of the same name. Familiar Irish names can be seen on the signs. The Irish carts are usually built after the style of these you see. Both ends have shafts so the donkey can be hitched to either. Ireland has large boglands. It has 1,500,000 acres of swamps. In these the mosses, reeds, and other marsh plants grow rapidly. They die and are covered with water. This goes on year after year till thick layers of vegetable matter is piled up. The Irish drain the swamps, and cut the layers into slices of peat or turf. Cutting peat is an art that nobody knows so well as the Irish. The top of the peat layer has not decayed enough to be real peat. It is sliced off with a spade, and not used. Then is the time to use the peat knife. This is somewhat like our straw or hay knife. It has a long blade and looks like a spade and knife combined. With it a skillful workman can rapidly cut slice after slice of the soft peat from the layer. The cutting is done in the spring, and the pieces are stacked up to dry in the summer. In the fall they are carted into town or to the country houses. Explain how coal is formed. What is the difference between coal and peat? What other substances are used for fuel? Keystone ID: 6110 Note: All titles, descriptions, and location coordinates are from the original Keystone Slide documentation as supplied by the Keystone View Company. No text has been edited or changed.
Copyright by the Keystone View Company. The original slides are housed in McConnell Library's Special Collections.