A “bog” is a wetland that accumulates peat, a deposit of dead plant material—often mosses, and in a majority of cases, sphagnum moss. It is one of the four main types of wetlands. Other names for bogs include mire, quagmire, and muskeg; alkaline mires are called fens.
The Kells Girley Bog Eco Walk is a 3.5 miles/ 5.6 km waymarked National Loop which covers varying landscape of forest and bogland.
The first section of this looped walk takes you through a tranquil Coillte forest, where there is a coniferous forestry plantation located on high bog, a fast growing species that originates in North America.
The next section is the Girley Bog itself (girley: Girley, greathalloch — a marshy place), a site of considerable conservation significance, as it comprises of a raised bog, a rare habitat in the E.U. and one that is becoming increasingly scarce and under threat in Ireland.
There is a wonderful variety of birdlife and birdsong, plant and animal life and this is displayed through a number of interpretive panels along the walk.
You will find bog cotton, sundew, bog asphodel, bog rosemary, cranberry, bilberry, heathers, lichens, as well as 12 different types of Sphagnum. Wildflowers are plentiful, such as Devils Bit Scabious, Valerian, Woody Nightshade, Hogweed, Eyebright, wild strawberries & raspberry canes and spotted orchids. The bog pools are home to a wide selection of dragonflies, and butterflies and moths can also be seen.
In the 20th century, as the bogs were exploited for fuel, thousands of important archaeological finds were made - including swords, jewellery, trumpets and human bodies (preserved by the acid nature of the bog).
Another interesting use of the bog was to keep butter cool during the summer months - and there have been many finds of butter kept in wooden containers called 'methers'.