Boora is the name given to a group of bogs west of Tullamore, County Offaly which are milled for peat production by Bord Na Mona for the supply of peat to horticultural and energy industries, including the nearby ESB powerstation at Shannonbridge and peat briquette factory at Derrinlough.
Boora is also the name of the Bord Na Mona’s Fabrication Works nearby at Leabeg. Boora Works is home to a workforce of fitters and electricians who service and supply the machinery for peat production used in the greater Boora and Blackwater groups of bogs.
The Boora Group of bogs include Turraun and Pollagh, two of the earliest bogs drained by the Turf Development Board in the 1940s. During the war years labourers cut turf by hand and were housed in military style camps in this area. Post war, industrialisation took hold and Bord Na Mona was set up with District Headquarters sited at Boora Offices. Turf-cutting became peat-harvesting and the mechanisation of production began. Labourers were replaced with a more skilled workforce and machines, designed to speed up production and increase productivity were developed. Millers, harvesters, baggers did the field work while railways sped loco(motive)s and wagons with peat to nearby factories. This was the age of the machine, and its impact shaped the land and lives all about.
The development of the peat production industry was crucial to the socioeconomic development of the greater Offaly area. The drainage of the bogs made adjacent lands arable and farming small holdings was possible. People settled and communities formed. Second and third generations took jobs with “the Board” and life became very familiar.
This practice continues today, although in increasingly smaller numbers. A skilled permanent workforce of fitters and electricians is supplemented with seasonal workers, although, more likely to be made up of a more diverse socio-economic group.
Boora Works is the heart and soul of operations. Here, all rail lines intercept and man, land and machine converge. Man and land in these parts have shaped one another. The duality of their existence is the core element of the Boora project, and this is the story, the Genius Fabulae, of this place.
The journey – the detourment of this place is from nature to industrial; from analog work practices to digital retelling. The derivé is at the junction of people and place, and the times we live in.