The Lucky Bog Cat

Irish bog cat 1

My family has always been savvy thrifters. After all, my father was one of New York’s Strongest for 35 years, and he was always looking for hidden treasures “on the job,” so it’s in my blood.

As a kid, my dad would take me to various junk shops but our favorite, “upscale” place was St. Vincent De Paul. It’s close to our house, just a town over in Garden City Park. I don’t get there much any more, but my father still goes regularly in search of a great deal. He’ll look for stuff I “need” and call from the store, “They got a great set of red wine glasses, real cheap, do you want’em?” He knows my style and anything red to match my kitchen I usually take.

The other day when I saw him he looked excited, “I got something for you! I think it’s worth money, look it up on the internet.” Part of the game is to find thrifted items that are expensive and then we try to resell it for a profit. Back in the day my father sold to his “Junk Lady” Ruthy; now my sister does it on Ebay.  My fathers has been doing this his whole life and that extra cash adds up. His junk finds paid for my art classes in high school and stuff like expensive sneakers and Cavaricci’s I wanted for Christmas.

Irish bog cat

He handed me a miniature black cat figurine. The face is so unique looking, I see why he picked it up. It’s not exactly a cat’s face– it’s more human or frog-like. My father taught me as a kid to look for labels and engravings. The cat has a label “Part of a range of images of Ireland paying tribute to its culture and heritage, Island Turf Crafts have re-created these images in turf cut from Irish bog lands… made in Ireland.

This was intriguing to both of us. I took to the internet to research my new treasure. My black cat was in fact lucky – The Lucky Bog Cat of Ireland. I’ve never heard about this or the Irish bogslands for that matter. Legend goes…

“Ireland’s bogland was once home to the much sought after black bog cat which was said to roam the vast bogland near the shores of Lough Neagh. It was larger than the usual cat and lived on insects and small animals, and was said to bring luck and great wealth and happiness to those whose path it crossed. Similar stories are told about a large black cat seen in the boglands in midland Ireland and with its intelligent cunningness always evaded capture.”

Google said my cat was worth 12 euros. My father got it for a buck.  I told him it wasn’t worth much but that it was lucky and would bring us money and happiness. He laughed!  It’s so interesting to me that Ireland is known for the lucky shamrock and apparently … the lucky bog cat. Is this common knowledge to Irish folks?

I read further about the boglands of Ireland. They’re wetlands that accumulate peat, a deposit of dead plant material including mosses. Most  bogs  form where the water at the ground level is acidic and low in nutrients. Boglands have very specific biodiversity and numerous wetlands throughout the world are environmentally projected by the government.

For centuries Irish bogland has played an intrical part of life and culture. Every farmer and most every family’s rural home had their own turf bank (another name for peat fossil fuel). Irish turf was dug from the bogs, dried and used as fuel for cooking food and heating.  It is still used today but less so with a push for green energy. In 2018 dozens of factory bogland closed. Many in Ireland felt it  was an “end of an era.”

What I love about thrift store finds is that they unfold a little mystery and can teach you something you didn’t know about before.

If you have a story about the Irish Bog Cat or more information on its symbolism I would like to hear from you. Email me here.


tagged in irish