Bog Bursts, Ireland: County to County

Co. Londonderry

A.D. 1824, December 22.-Bog of Ballywindelland, Colerlaine.
A portion of this bog containing 80 or 100 acres gave way and passed into an adjoining valley: it gradually advanced on the firm land, during theday, at the rate of 2 feet per minute.

A.D. 1895, August 9.-Bog near Dungiven, Co. Derry
The site was in the townland of Briskey, at the east slope of Benbradagh; an extensive mountain bog 10 to 30 feet in depth, sloping at a gradient of about 1 in 12. Where the burst occurred a small stream runs underground for about a quarter mile, the ground above it being firm, so that cattle grazed on it.
On the evening of August 9th there, was a thunderstorm, but not accompanied by any excessive rainfall. The weather during the summer had been normal. In the night, probably, before midnight, between 2 and 3 acres of bog gave way. For some 40 yards length at its lower end, the bog burst out entirely. Over the rest a tapering area 300 feet wide by 600 long, the ground subsided about 10 feet, leaving great blocks of the solid crust, broken up in a fantastic way. A very considerable flood of water and peat poured down the stream, which eventually joins the River Roe. No damage was done, as the gradients are steep, and the land not under cultivation, but a cottage situated beside the stream 1 mile below the scene of the outburst narrowly escaped being washed away. A deposit of peat was left on the banks of the stream for a considerable distance. There is evidence of several similar slides having taken place in the district..

Ref: Information supplied by Mr. H.C. Moore, C.E., Dungiven (1897 – to Dr. Praeger)

Co. Galway

A.D.1745, March 28.- Bog of Addergoole, Dunmore, County Galway-
About mid-day, after a heavy thunder-shower, about 10 acres of bog, the front of which was being cut for turf, moved forward and down the course of a stream, and subsided upon a low pasture of 30 acres by the riverside, where it spread and settled, covering the whole. The stream thus dammed back, rose till it formed a lake of 300 acres, which, by the cutting of a channel, was subsequently reduced to 50 or 60 acres. This area, together with the 30 acres of meadow over which the bog spread, has been destroyed for purposes of husbandry.

Ref: Ouseley, Trans. R.I.A., vol. ii, Science, pp. 3-5, plate I., ?1887

A.D. 1821, September.-Joyce country, County Galway.-
“Upwards of a hundred acres of land, on which crops were growing and several families resided, were heard to emit a sound resembling thunder; the earth then became convulsed, and eventually this large tract moved down towards the sea, leaving the whole route over which it passed a complete waste.

A.D. 1873. October 1.-Bog 3 miles east of Dunmore, Co. Galway.
The bog was connected with the Dunmore river by the Carrabel, a small stream. It was considerably elevated above the surrounding country, its edges presenting the appearance of high turf banks. “A farmer digging potatoes suddenly observed a brown mass slowly approaching. Leaving his spade in the ground, he went for the neighbours, and on his return the mass of moving bog had half covered his potato field, and completely hidden his corn field from sight, except a few stacks which remained on a knoll, an island in the midst of a scene of desolation.” The bog slowly flowed down the valley of the Dunmore, burying three farm houses, and covering about 300 acres of pasture and arable land, 6 feet deep. The peat was cut along a perpendicular face, 25 to 30 feet in height, which extended down to the underlying gravel. It was from this cutting that the outburst took place, The flood of peat and water moved rapidly at first, but afterwards slowly, and continued in movement for 11 days. It carried away roads and bridges. The subsided portion of the bog extended eastwards from the face of the cutting for a distance of a quarter of a mile; its greatest breadth measured also a quarter of a mile, down the middle, a valley from 20 to 25 feet deep was formed, and about the sides the crust was torn asunder. The numerous crevasses so formed were fined to the top with black peaty fluid.

Ref: Savage, ‘Picturesque Ireland’ pp. 234-235

A.D. 1890. January 27.-Bog at Loughatorick North, Co. Galway
The bog is situated in the townland of Loughatorick North, on the Slieve Aughty Mountains, nearly on the watershed, and 300 feet above Ballinlough Lake, which lies N .E., and into which the bog drains by a small river. The bog consists of two portions, separated by a narrow neck, where exposed rock was seen after the outburst. The upper and larger part is 70 acres in extent, the lower only 15 acres. The latter began to move 3 days before the upper portion; in its centre was a small lake to which an underground stream could be traced; after the outburst, this lake became dry. After a fall of snow, a sudden thaw set in on the 24th January ; three days later a movement of the bog commenced, and continued till 1st February. Great masses of peat were carried away by the black flood into Ballinlough Lake, which was nearly filled with peat and the outwashed trunks of trees. The lowlands were covered with peat over an area of 100 acres:, and for a depth of 12 inches. Traces of the flood were visible to a height of 6 or 7 feet on the trunks of trees which stood in its course. The upper part of the bog subsided from 10 to 15 feet ; its margins were much rent with fissures.

Ref: Report to the Board of Public Works, by Mr. A.T. Pentland, 24th November 1890.

Co. Limerick

A.D. 1697, June 7th. Kapanihane Bog, Co. Limerick, near Charleville:
Described in a letter dated June 7th, 1697:

“On the 7th day of June, 1697, near Charleville, in the County of Limerick, in Ireland, a great Rumbling, or faint Noise was heard in the Earth, much like unto a Sound of Thunder near spent ; for a little Space the Air was somewhat troubled with little Whisking Winds, coming to meet contrary Ways: and soon after that, to the greater Terror and Afrightment of a great Number of Spectators, a more wonderful thing happened ; for in a Bog stretching North and South, the Earth began to more, viz. Meadow and Pasture Land that lay on the side of the Bog, and separated by an extraordinary large Ditch, and other Land on the further side adjoining to it; and a Rising, or Little Hill in the middle of the Bog thereupon sunk flat.

This Motion began about Seven of the Clock in the Evening, fluctuating in its Motion like Waves, the Pasture-Land rising very high, so that it over-run the Ground beneath it, and moved upon its Surface, rowling on with great pushing Violence, till it covered the Meadow, and held to remain upon it 16 Feet.

In the Motion of this Earth, it drew after it the Body of the Bog, part of it lying on the Place where the Pasture-Land that moved out of its Place it had before stood; leaving great Breaches behind it, and Spewings of Water that cast up noisom Vapours : And so it continues at present, to the great Wonderment of those that pass by, or come many Miles to be Eye-witnesses of so strange a thing.”

This communication was accompanied by a map and detailed description by John Honohane.

Ref: Philosophical Transactions, vol. Ixi, pp.714-716, October, 1697; & Boate, Molyneux and others, a Natural History of Ireland, 1755, p. 113

A.D. 1708. Castlegarde Bog, County Limerick.- The Castlegarde bog, or as it was then called Poulevard, moved along a valley and buried three houses containing about twenty-one persons. It was a mile long, a quarter mile broad, and about 20 feet deep in some parts. It ran for several miles, crossed the high road at Doon, broke, through several bridges, and flowed into the Lough of Coolpish.

Ref: Dublin Evening Telegraph, 2nd January 1897

A.D. 1840, January.- Bog of Farrtindoyle, Kanturk, Co. Cork.
The bog was 10 feet in thickness, resting on a substratum of yellow-clay; the pent-up water underrmined a prodigious mass of bog, and bore it buoyantly on its surface; twenty acres of valuable meadow were covered, and a cottage: was propelled and engulfed ; a quarter of a mile of the road from Kanturk to Williamstown was covered 12 to 30 feet deep.

Ref: Freemans journal, January 3, 1840 (copied from the Cork Standard)

Co. Longford

A. D.1809,December 6.- Bog of Rine, Camlin River, County Longford.
“In the night during a thunderstorm, about 20 acres of the bog burst asunder in numerous places, leaving chasms of many perches in length, and of various breadths, from 10 feet to 3 inches. The rifts were in general parallel to the river, but in some places the smaller rifts were at right angles to it; not only the bog, but the bed of the river was forced upward; the boggy bottom filling up the channel of the river, and rising 3 or 4 feet above its former banks. In a few hours 170 acres of land were by these means overflowed, and they continued in that state for many months, till the bed of the river was cleared by much labour and at considerable expense.”

The bog had been an unusually wet one. It did not sink in any particular place. “Several earthquakes were felt in distant countries about 16th December, …and it is not absolutely impossible that a communication may exist between them ” (the earth quake and the bog-slide.)

Ref: Edgeworth, App. 8 to the 2nd Report of Bog Commission, p. 176, 1811

A.D. 1883. January 30- Bog near Newtownforbes, Co. Longford.
“A bog near Newtownforbes has commenced to migrate, covering turf and potatoes.”

A.D. 1819, January.- Owenmore Valley, Erris, Co. Mayo
“A mountain tarn burst its banks, and heaving the bog that confined it, came like a liquid wall a-down, forcing everything along boulders, bog timber, and sludge, until, as it were in an instant, it broke upon the houses [of a small village], carrying all before it, stones, timbers, and bodies; and it was only some days after, that at the estuary of the river in Tullohan Bay, the bodies of the poor people were found.”

Ref: Otway, “Sketches in Erris and Tirawley,” p. 14, 1841

Co. Offaly

A.D. 1821, June 26.Bog of Kilmaleady, near Clara, King’s Co. (Offaly)
The excellent report on the outbreak of this bog, communicated to the Royal Dublin Society by Sir Richard Griffith, may with advantage be consulted by those who are interested in the subject. It will be found in the Journal of the Royal Dublin Society, vol. I., pp. 14I-144 and map, 1858.

Sir William. Wilde gives the following additional particulars taken from the daily press of the time :~
At 7 p.m:, of the evening of the 26th June, the south front of the bog of Ballykillion, or Kilmalady, gave way to a depth of 25 feet, and with a tremendous noise, commenced to move down the valley at the rate of about 2 yards an hour, with a front 200 yards wide, and about 8 feet deep. It continued to move for more than a month,
“About the same time the Ferret bog, about 16 miles north-east of Kilmalady, was strongly agitated, boiling up to a great height.”

Ref: Census of Ireland for the year 1851, part v., vol., I, 1856, pp. 189, 190
Co. Sligo
A.D. 1831, January.- Bog, near Geevagh, Co. Sligo.
” After a sudden thaw of snow, the bog between Bloomfield and Geevagh gave way; and a black deluge, carrying with it the contents of 100 acres of bog, took the direction of a small stream, and rolled on with the violence of a torrent, sweeping along heath, timber, mud, and stones, and overwhelming many meadows and arable land. On passing through some boggy land, the flood swept out a wide and deep ravine, and a part of the road leading from Bloomfield to St. James’s Well was completely carried away from below the foundation for the breadth of 200 yards.”

Ref: Lyell, Principles of Geology’ 10th ed., vol. ii., p. 504

Co. Roscommon

A.D. 1870,December 14, 9 a..m.- Bog near Castlereagh, Co. Roscommon
The bog is situated 5 miles north-east of Castlereagh,on the watershed of the River Suck and the Owen-na-foreesha, a tributary of Lough Gara ; it overlies cavernous limestone. The eruption, took place from the face of a turf-cutting, which was from 12 to 15 feet in height. A very rapid flood of peat and water poured forth, bearing on its surface large masses or the crust of the bog; it rose 10 feet over Baslick Bridge, and left a deposit of peat, which covered 165 acres of low ground and extended for some 6 or 7 miles down the valley of the Suck; A valley was formed in the peat bog half a mile in length and 20 feet deep.

Ref: Report to the Board of Public Works, by Mr. Forsyth, 26th & 28th January, 1871

A.D. 1883. .January 25.- Bog near Castlereagh, Co. Roscommon.
“The bog was situated between the villages of Moor and Baslick; in about two hours it moved a mile in a south-westerly direction towards the River Suck; after a short interval the movement continued, some 4,000 acres of land were covered, three houses had to be deserted, several roads were blocked; the Ballinagare road being covered 15 feet deep. Eleven or twelve years ago the Tulla bog, situated about a quarter of a mile from the scene of the present outbreak, burst and discharged itself to the river Suck.”

Ref: Report to the Board of Public Works, by Mr. Forsyth, 31st October, 1883.

Co. Tipperary

A.D. 1788, March 27. Bog near Dundrum, county Tipperary.
A large bog of 1500 acres, lying between Dundrum and Cashel, in the county of Tipperary, began to be agitated in an extraordinary manner, and to the astonishment and terror of neighbouring inhabitants. The rumbling noise from the bog gave the alarm, and on the 30th it burst, and a kind of lava issued from it, which took its direction towards Ballygriffen and Golden, overspreading and laying waste a vast tract or fine fertile land belonging to John Hide Esq. Everything that opposed its course was buried in ruins. Four houses were totally destroyed, and the trees that stood near them torn up by the roots. The discharge has been incessant since the 30th, and how far it will extend cannot at present be deter.

Gentleman’s Magazine, vol 1viii, p. 355, 1788