CLONMACNOISE in January, with the Shannon in flood in the background.

Offaly - it’s more than the Bog of Allen

From telescopes to monks to the great outdoors

IN PRIMARY school geography we learned that Ireland was shaped like a saucer. There were islands around the edges and flat land in the middle, and in the middle of that flat land was the Bog of Allen, and in the Bog of Allen were two landlocked counties, Laois and Offaly.

We all sighed in relief that we were blessed to live in Co Galway, with its seaside and mountains, and not in the soggy, boggy Midlands.

A simplistic picture, I agree, but as the Jesuits used to say, “give me the boy and I’ll give you back the man” (sorry, feminists, but that’s what they said). That primary school impression is hard to root out, no matter how willing you are to be convinced otherwise.

So, it’s hardly surprising that my first destination in Offaly was the Lough Boora Discovery Park.

I had been vaguely aware of it but took more interest when a young scientist of my acquaintance started his PhD research on insect life in a corner of the bogland which surrounds the lake.

So, on a bright Tuesday afternoon I found myself turning left off the N52 in the village of Kilcormac and driving up a narrow road…

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