Summary of site:
Nine kilometres north west of Omagh there is a string of raised bogs along the valley of the Fairy Water. These bogs are accumulations of plant matter that first grew out over small lakes and flooded areas, eventually covering and concealing the water surface when mosses took over and grew steadily upwards, forming a dome. Pollens accumulated on the bog surface as it slowly grew and in long established bogs formed a record within the peat of the plants that grew around them during their formation. Fine volcanic dust particles (tephra) carried high into the atmosphere, in this case from Iceland, also eventually settled and their layers can be traced to real volcanic events and calibrated within the pollen record.
Garvaghullion Bog was investigated by researchers from Queen’s University Belfast’s Palaeoecology Department for both its pollen record and tephra horizons and, at the time the coring was performed, it appeared to be a rich source of research materials. Sometime after 1993 commercial peat extraction commenced and by 1997 only a tenth of the original bog surface remained and even that was surrounded by deep drains. Effectively, this potential Area of Special Scientific Interest is now lost to science, although an accumulating heap of bog pines and bog oaks, removed during peat extraction, may afford some limited consolation as materials for dendrochronological (tree ring dating) studies.
The fate of Garvaghullion Bog is a salutary tale of the failure to properly protect a scientifically important site, the more frustrating because careful management may well have allowed both limited extraction alongside preservation of its palaeoecological importance.