Bog- Butter

Bog Butter

Taken from "Romantic Inishowen" 1947 by Harry Percival Swan

During turf-cutting operations on a bog at Drumley, Gleneely, Moville, in June, 1943. Mr George McLoughlin came upon a circular wicker work receptacle which fell to pieces when disturbed. It was found to contain, in one solid mass, about 28lbs. of the fatty substance known as "Bog Butter". The butter was yellow in colour but turned pale after being exposed to the air for some time. This was the first recorded instance of its discovery in County Donegal.

The custom of burying butter in bogs is of very great interest, although the period of origin of the custom is unknown. Various historians have put forward different theories to account for the practice; some that it was buried for preservation until the annual winter shortage; others that it was buried in order to acquire a flavour in the absence of salt; and more that the custom had a religious significance, being offered as a thanksgiving to the water-gods, for cures to milch animals such as cows and goats. When we remember that our bogs were originally lake-bottoms, and that the "butter" has been found throughout Ireland in containers of wood, bark, skin and cloth, as well as wicker, we are inclined to believe the last mentioned theory. No one seems to know anything definite about the custom; but that it was mediaeval in origin and died out in our great-grand-parents' time cannot be disputed.

Mr George McLoughlin very kindly presented his find of "Inishowen Bog-Butter" to the National Museum, Dublin, where it is now.