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Buailteachas / Booleying: Ireland’s Forgotten History

Photographer Alan Tobin joins Niall of Bitesize Irish to explore Ireland’s forgotten history of moving livestock to the uplands for summer, a practice which took place after Bealtaine every year.

About Alan Tobin

Alan Tobin is a photographic artist based in the Galtee mountains. He lives beaneath the Galtees in the Glen of Aherlow, Co. Tipperary, with his partner, cats and hens. Alan holds a MA in Photography from London Metropolitan University. His images explore the social, economic and agricultural history of human settlement in the Galtee mountains, and strive to generate introspection on our relationship with natural landscapes.

Since the beginning of 2023, Alan has been focusing on historical evidence of “booleying” – the Irish term for transhumance – in the Galtee Mountains. Transhumance is defined as “the act or practice of moving livestock from one grazing ground to another in a seasonal cycle, typically to lowlands in winter and highlands in summer.” In Ireland, this was more commonly known as “booleying” – an anglicised form of the Irish “Buailteachas”. More information on Alan’s Buaile project can be found on his website or in his blog posts.


What you’ll here in the interview and links

Alan’s Photography of Booley Locations Around Tipperary

Goat cabin. Copyright Alan Tobin.

Goat cabin. Copyright Alan Tobin.

Moonacoon House booley location. Copyright Alan Tobin.
Booley over Pigeon Rock Valley. Copyright Alan Tobin.
Booley in Boolakennedy. Copyright Alan Tobin.
Booley hut in Gaddee Glen. Copyright Alan Tobin.

Our thanks to Alan for sharing his deep dive into Ireland’s forgotten history of booleying.

This post is part of our materials relating to Bealtaine. Take the next step in your Irish learning journey with membership of Bitesize Irish, giving you access to self-study lessons, online community and live sessions.

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4 thoughts on “Buailteachas / Booleying: Ireland’s Forgotten History”

  1. This was a wonderful episode–thank you! Our family listened on the podcast. We live on the west coast of the US, near Seattle, and our family has Irish grandparents still living in Mayo. My 7 year old son has chosen (on his own! yes!) to learn Irish as a personal challenge, and to my delight he listened to every word of this episode. Now our whole family is learning. So glad to have found Bitesize Irish, and particularly this deep dive into the history of buailteachas. Good wishes from out west.

  2. Karla Burkhart

    In western U. S, we see sheep being watched by the herder in the summers with the man living in the hills with the sheep. Cattle are usually, left to roam free, are rounded up in the fall but the sheep are watched over. Some live in small cabins but many in wheeled carts like cabins on wheels.