He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep (12)
It's pretty impressive how Heaney can make all this digging so beautiful. After all, it's totally dirty work. But his imagery makes it seem downright lovely.
By God, the old man could handle a spade. Just like his old man. (15-16)
Heaney explicitly states that his father was super-skilled at digging, and so was his grandfather. It seems like a source of awe for our speaker – like he's totally impressed.
My grandfather cut more turf in a dayThan any other man on Toner's bog. (17-18)
What exactly is cutting turf, anyway? Check out this video to find out more.