A survey of the Heritage Trees of Ireland is being undertaken by the Tree Council of Ireland in association with, and part-funded by, The Heritage Council, Crann and The Irish Tree Society. The Heritage Council for Ireland are looking for help in finding out about as many trees as possible and would be extremely grateful if you could tell us about any you know of and forward this to as many people as possible. For example, historical societies, archaeological groups, community groups, environmental groups.
A heritage tree can be defined as one of cultural, ecological or historical interest because of its age, size or condition. The project is being undertaken as an extension of the Tree Register of Ireland which is a record of Ireland’s Champion Trees.
They want heritage and ancient trees to survive as long as possible and to do this we need to protect them. The only way that can happen is to know where they are, so it is necessary to find them, map them, photograph them and record them.
The Council want to hear about giant, important, mysterious, sacred, historical, fabulous, bizarre-looking or ancient trees, and generally trees with a story! There are all sorts of trees that would qualify for inclusion, for example: rag trees; hanging trees; trees at holy wells, military trees (planted in military formation to commemorate battles); those of exceptional girth, height or age; any associated with historical events, people or structures; and those which are important to a community.
Some of the most well-known examples are the ‘Hungry’ Tree at King’s Inns, Dublin which is a London plane that appears to be consuming a bench; Lady Gregory’s ‘Autograph’ Tree at Coole Park, South Galway, a copper beech which has been signed by WB Yeats, his brother Jack, George Bernard Shaw, the poet John Masefield, Sean O’Casey and other famous people.
However, not all heritage trees are so dramatic; they can, in fact, be quite unremarkable in appearance. For example, a lone hawthorn tree has been included in the survey as it marks the summit of Freestone Hill, Co. Kilkenny and folklore prevents its removal.