Irish bog-oak ranges in age from 3,000 to 8,000 years old.
The Irish climate was warmer and drier at that time in our history. Oak trees grew profusely throughout the country.
Then the climate changed to a wetter and damper era. The roots of great oaks lost their grip in the soggy soil and fell to the ground. Some may have fallen at other times as a result of forest fires. Vegetation gradually covered the fallen trees. The tanic acid in the oak trees interacted with the decaying vegatation turning the oak black or a darker brown and preserving it for posterity. It is often referred to as black oak.
This decaying vegetation forms today’s bogs. As the turf is cut the ancient oak is uncovered where it was lain for thousands of years. It is soft and pliable at first but as it is exposed to the air it becomes rock hard. Before the advent of electricity slivers of bog-oak and bog deal were lit to provide light in the little cottages while big beams were used for rafters and mantlepieces.
Bog-oak has been highly valued by wood carvers for centuries. Penal crosses carved out of this wood were sold to Lough Derg pilgrims in the 17th and 18th centuries. Personal jewellery and household ornaments were manufactured from this beautiful wood.
What’s so wonderful about bog-oak? Its blackness. Its hardness. Its age. Its mystery. It is truly black magic.