Climate Change: Closing the Peat Bogs of Ireland

Before Minga died I had the blog posts all written for the next day — three of them. I’m going to start rolling them out, along with my ongoing reflections about Minga. It’s a sign that Minga’s death is not consuming all of my life, and that I’m able to move in and out of sadness.


This article about the bogs of Ireland caught my eye because of my mother’s Aunt Ella — a cousin actually, I think. Ella Delaney had a summer house in Avon-by-the-Sea at the Jersey shore, a middle class Irish Catholic enclave where Margaret longed to live. Wealthy Irish Catholics went to Sea Girt, or Spring Lake, but Avon was quite elite enough for my mother. The best we could afford growing up was a $35 a week bungalow in the adjacent town of Bradley Beach, and Margaret never got over her disdain for the place. She invested scarce dollars into having Ella get us beach badges for Avon, so we could at least swim there and pretend to be summer residents.

Ella’s summer house had a cottage in back on the lane, where Ella stayed from May until October while she rented the Big House. She was ruthless in discerning suitable renters. Italian Catholics need not seek her out; their garlic cooking smells would get in her walls and ruin the place. She preferred lace curtain Irish — the upper part of the crust who came on the train from North Jersey to summer in Avon — and would tolerate shanty Irish if they didn’t look like drunks or have too many children. But bog Irish were out, and Ella claimed to know the difference just by the way prospective renters walked down the street.

Anyone not Catholic need not apply at all.

This article is about Ireland closing the peat bogs — from whence all of those undesirable bog Irish surely came —  in the interest of reducing carbon emissions. Actually the damaged bogs will continue to emit carbon, a lot of it, even though no further material for burning will be extracted. Another of those pesky unintended consequences, it turns out that harvested peat bogs are the carbon emissions gift that keeps on giving.

Aunt Ella wouldn’t have doubted the curse of the peat bogs for a moment.

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