The bargeman seen in Hades as the funeral carriage crosses the Royal Canal has been "Dropping down lock by lock to Dublin. With turf from the midland bogs." Ireland's midlands contain vast expanses of glacier-scoured, rain-soaked terrain where peat, a precursor of coal, has been building up for millennia, often to depths of 20-40 feet (up to 12 meters), in so-called "raised bogs": rounded, water-logged hills that once were marshes. For a very long time inhabitants have sliced peat out of these raised bogs, stacked it to dry, and then burned it for heat. Turf-cutting accelerated rapidly in the 17th century, and in the 19th century large quantities were shipped to Dublin on barges.

JH 2019

Map showing the deep "raised bogs" of Ireland's flatlands (red) and the shallower "blanket bogs" of its mountains (green). Source: www.askaboutireland.ie.

Turf cutting on a raised bog, in a photograph of unknown date from the collection of Maggie Land Blanck. Source: www.maggieblanck.com.

Cut peat turf on a blanket bog in County Kerry. Source: www.irishcentral.com.

Turf-Barges, Portobello, Dublin, a 1941 woodcut print by Harry Kernoff Rha. Source: www.whytes.ie.