mad in pursuit ireland


The Bog

So there we were, the front wheels of our Peugot in the bog, the back wheels not quite touching the nameless one-lane road cutting across a nameless peninsula in Connemara. Only minutes before we had realized this was not Route 341. And, upon attempting to turn around, we had jarringly discovered that the road's narrow shoulder was not land at all. Oh, crap.

Bog, Keenagh, Co Longford Ireland

Peat bogs are beautiful, terrifying places, neither earth nor water — one of those ancient swampy transition zones that provide hearth-warming fuel and suffocating death.

Corlea Trackway, recovered portionJust the weekend before, the Ghees had taken us to visit the ancient Corlea Trackway near their home in Longford. Prehistoric inhabitants had gone through enormous effort to lay oak planks in a broad road across the bog between two sacred sites. Shortly after completion the whole thing sank into the bog. Swallowed. In European bogs archeologists have recovered bodies that indicate human sacrifice and other artifacts suggesting offerings to... who knows.

Michael Monaghan told us that Brazilian day laborers are hired in the spring by Galway farmers who need help cutting and turning turf on their property. Michael is noticing that the Brazilians have begun wearing signs on their T-shirts: "No Bog." I assumed it was because the job was bone-chilling and back-breaking, but now I wonder if it doesn't simply creep them out — like I used to get creeped out snorkelling in tropical mangrove swamps... too tangled, too haunted. Something is always watching.

I thought of this at 9:30 on that Wednesday morning, staring at our sunken front wheels.

A car came by. Two German women. They got out and tried to help us push but the blonde shook her head and confirmed the obvious: "You need a tow."

We scratched our heads for a few minutes till a big SUV came by. Another traveller. He'd be happy to give us a tow, he said, but he had no rope.

More head-scratching. Gosh, I didn't want to call the Hertz emergency number and sit by the side of the road all day while a tow truck drove out from Galway.

A small truck came by and as luck would have it, the driver had a length of blue nylon rope. He jumped out and tied the two vehicles together. With the four pushers in front, me throwing the engine in reverse, and the SUV gunning it, we were quickly out of the bog, everyone cheerfully shaking hands and waving goodbye. An amazing international team effort.

As we drove away I felt in my pocket for the piece of worn white beach glass I found down the coast — a wonderful little worry stone. "Stop here," I said to Jim and handed him the beach glass to toss into the bog. Our offering to the bog spirits who let us go.


MORE on Ireland 2007 >>>

Thumbs Up if you liked this entry.