WHEN people think of Fermanagh’s beautiful landscape they usually conjure images of lakes and forests, or the caves and Cuilcagh. A turf bog wouldn’t normally be what first comes to mind.
Thanks to the creative thinking of a Belleek family, however, scores of foreign tourists have been leaving the county with memories of not only visiting a local bog, but even having a cuppa after cutting a few sods!
After coming up with the genius idea in 2017, Martin McAndrew and his family have been running increasingly popular turf bog tours on their bog which crosses the Donegal border. Over the past two years visitors have come from all over Europe and North America, and have been blown away by a landscape most of us take for granted.
“If you mention the bog to most Irish they get scared, and they get post-traumatic stress syndrome,” joked Martin, who said visitors from abroad really appreciated it. “They’re not going to get stuck in the bog for a day or a week at a time, they are going as a visitor to learn a bit more about turf.
“It’s OK for people from Ireland and the west of Scotland, who are used to peat production and know about, but a lot of people think, how can you burn something that comes out of the ground.”
Martin added the reaction of visitors have been phenomenal: “Some of the people we have taken out have been blown away by it. I remember one lady from Texas, and she said it had been her life’s ambition, it had been on her bucket list, to go to a turf bog.”
Visitors not only learn about the heritage of spade turf cutting, but about the flora and fauna of the bog, such as the very handy bog myrtle which can help keep the midges away.
Martin, who said he wasn’t aware of a similar type of your anywhere else, said tourist providers needed to be “creative” these days and offer people something unique.
“The way tourism is going you need something that stands out, that gives people a unique experience,” he said.
Posted: 9:00 am February 24, 2020