Irish Bog Oak Sculptures Now on Display

With St. Patrick’s Day just a few days away, we’ve got Irish culture on our minds at Doherty. We’re celebrating with a new exhibit put together by Katie McDonald featuring Irish bog oak sculptures from her personal collection.

Bog oak sculptures are crafted from fallen trees buried thousands of years ago in Ireland’s bogs and later extracted from the peat. The reaction of the oak with decaying vegetation gives the wood unique properties. For craftsmen working at the height of bog oak popularity in the 1850s, carving the oak could be tricky:

“When the timbers were first brought to the surface from the airless depths of the bog they exhibited a mid-brown to dark brown hue, but on contact with oxygen, semi-petrification soon set in, causing the wood to take on an ebony colour. It was therefore essential, if carving was to be undertaken, that the wet and pliable state be preserved, thus enabling easier fashioning. Then full petrification took place, rendering the finished item deep black and almost steel-hard. ” *

All of the pieces on display in the library were created in Ireland. The exhibit is available for viewing during regular library hours in the Doherty Lobby until April 15.

*Irons, Neville. “Irish Bog Oak Carving.” Irish Arts Review (1984-1987) 4, no. 2 (July 01, 1987): 54-63. For UST students and faculty, go to: