Day 53: Peat Heat

Millstreet is a town of 1,500 at the foot of Clara Mountain in the north of County Cork. It is a town with charm and character, with lovely flower gardens and a picturesque railway station built in 1853. It is an area with a strong interest in things equestrian and is home to the annual Millstreet Horse Show that sometimes has more than 10,000 entrants. Laetitia and her group went horseback riding in nearby Millstreet Country Park, with its views of lakes, waterfalls, streams, boglands, moorlands, native deer, and birds.

Passing by a peat bog, one of Laetitia’s group raised a question about peat as a fuel in Ireland. Ireland was once covered with forests, but during the Napoleonic wars, the trees were mostly logged off to build the British Navy. About 2,000 trees were required to build a 74, the ship of the line (with 74 guns) that was the mainstay of the fleet during that era. Left without trees, the Irish turned to dried peat as a fuel for cooking and heating cottages. At the pub that afternoon, Laetitia heard some gossip involving peat—unverifiable as usual—which provided the limerick of the day. She was certain that the rumor underlying the gossip was made up by teenage boys with too much testosterone and too little sense, but she needed a limerick, so she used it.

When they heard that a lass from Millstreet
Was aroused when she smelled smoke from peat
All the lads who lived near
Would build peat fires and cheer
With catcalls that were quite indiscreet.

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