Song of The Bog

Song of The Bog Conference will take place at the Lough Neagh Discovery Centre on Wednesday 10th May 2017. Attendance is free, but booking is essential Tel: 028 7941 7941

Song of The Bog Conference

Bogs have been part of the consciousness of this landscape for centuries. They have inspired poetry, provided a window on the past, a source of warmth and a home to the richest of ecologies.  The Lough Neagh landscape has more than its fair share of these riches.
Peat joins the built, natural and cultural elements of our heritage like nothing else. Of course, there are challenges in any talk of bogs and there are often problems of perception but the opportunities of this unique part of our landscape are immense.

The bog is not only a reservoir of carbon trapped by the plants that grew at its surface; it is a repository of information about our past and particularly about the ways communities used or abused the landscapes that supported them.

This conference, which was made possible by funding supplied by Heritage Lottery Fund, will we hope be the beginning of a conversation around the value of bog lands to us all. We invite you to come along to this day and start our journey towards unlocking the song of the bog.


Order of Events

09.00  Registration
09.30  Welcome
09.45  Eamonn Kelly “ Secrets of the Bog Bodies ”
10.10  Dr David Wilson “ Change, climate and the Bog ”
10.30  Dr Benjamin Gearey “ Hidden Landscapes – Heritage and Lessons ”
10.50 Keith Stanford “ Peatlands Park – Its journey to Nature ”
11.00 Question and answer session
11.10  Coffee/Tea break
11.30 Nessa Cronin  “ Deep mapping – bogs and conversations “
11.45 Workshop sessions
13.15 Lunch
14.00 Prof Mike Baillie  “ Bog oaks – Their message in history (Dendrochronology) “
14.20 James Rainey  “ Bog Love ”
14.35 Trish Fox “ Connecting science and stories “
14.50 Question and Answer session
15.00 Coffee/Tea Break
15.15 Workshop discussion
15:45 Final comments and close

Download the Bog Conference Programme

Conference Speakers

Prof Mike Baillie is currently Emeritus Professor of Palaeoecology, in the School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology, Queen’s University, Belfast.  Much of his work was carried out around the shores of Lough Neagh. He was one of the first to recognise the existence of global environmental downturns as shown by synchronous growth reductions in tree-ring chronologies around the world (Baillie, 1994).

Dr Nessa Cronin is a Cultural Geographer and Lecturer in Irish Studies, Centre for Irish Studies, NUI Galway, with a special interest in community mapping especially of marginal landscapes. She has published widely on Irish writing, cultural geography and community mapping practices. Nessa is co-editor of, Landscape Values: Place and Praxis (2016) and the forthcoming volume Lifeworlds: Space, Place and Irish Culture (2017). She has been the recipient of 3 Irish Research Council awards, bursaries from the European Science Foundation and Culture Ireland, and has been awarded visiting fellowships in University of Stanford, Univeristé de Nantes and University of Concordia. She works on community mapping projects in Clare, Galway and Mayo with artists, activists and community groups on socially-engaged projects investigating issues concerning place, language and culture.   

Dr Eamonn (Ned ) Kelly former Head of Antiquities National Museum of Ireland. He was in charge of the Irish and Foreign Archaeological Collections. He is recognised as one of the world’s experts on the importance of bog bodies and what they teach us about the past.

Dr Trish Fox – Ecologist Ulster WildlifeThe local stories of the bog – Dr Trish Fox is an ecologist and senior conservation officer for peatlands at Ulster Wildlife. A former journalist, she is a graduate of Queen’s University Belfast and completed a doctorate with the University of Western Australia where she looked at eucalypt woodlands of the wheatbelt, the perceptions of the first European settlers and what that revealed about our landscape preferences. She worked for 10 years with a conservation management network, the first in Victoria and second in Australia, which brought together all owners of a fragmented woodland in a sheep farming area. More recently she has been surveying Black Bog, an active raised bog in Tyrone, gathering both scientific information on the flora and information from landholders many of whom have owned the bog for generations. Their stories have greatly informed a conservation action plan for the bog. She hopes that sharing those stories will generate much discussion in a room full of peatland experts.

Dr Benjamin Gearey University College Cork – Environmental Archaeologist with a special interest in wetland archaeology and paleoenvironments. He has worked on a major HLF project on the Hidden Landscapes of Hatfield and Thorne Moors. His major research interest now is in heritage policy especially ecosystem services frameworks for future management of wetland environments.

Dr David Wilson lives in Donegal  – Bog Biologist – ecosystem services and natural resource management in relation to climate change – cutaway peatlands – worked on Bogland project and co- author of “The Bogs of Ireland – An introduction to the natural, cultural and industrial heritage of Irish Peatlands.

James Rainey – Biologist and bog artist – Bog Love – is a conservationist with wide ranging interests in marine, freshwater and terrestrial Irish ecosystems. He is currently working for marine issues professionally; restoring fen and grassland in my free time. Having grown up near Garvagh, James has tramped most of the bogs in the Bann Valley in search of sundews.


The conference is open to everyone, but advance booking is essential, telephone 028 7941 7941 to book your place.

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