THROUGH THE ARCHIVES: Power from Ulster’s turf bogs

From the News Letter, November 3, 1952

Turf looked set to become the Province’s most valuable asset reported the News Letter on this day in 1952
Turf looked set to become the Province’s most valuable asset reported the News Letter on this day in 1952

Turf looked set to become the Province’s most valuable asset reported the News Letter on this day in 1952.

During the summer months the Ministry of Commerce “armed with a portable boring apparatus” had been surveying the extent of the country’s boglands.

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It was noted that since the war peat deposits in the Province had assumed a new importance as the days of a plentiful supply of coal had passed.

Strangely enough, until the survey of the summer of 1952 took place very little had been known about turf, and indeed the only reference to it in the official yearbook of the Northern Ireland government had grouped it together with Ulster’s “useless” land in a simple bald statement under the heading: “Bog, marsh and barren mountain.”

At this early stage of investigation, as the report had not been made public, it was estimated the Ulster boglands could provide somewhere in the region of 540 million tonnes of peat – “an almost inexhaustible supply”.

The question of using peat from the Province’s boglands was due to be discussed at Stormont the following day with Mr Healy (Nationalist, South Fermanagh) tabling a question to the Minister of Commerce (Mr W C McCleery) whether or not the government planned establish a scheme to exploit this valuable natural resource.