Heritage Trees of Ireland

06th September 2013
Trees are a precious part of Ireland’s heritage, some remarkable for age or size, location or aesthetic appeal, historical or folklore connections. Such trees are found in our native woodlands, historic parklands, along roadsides, in hedgerows, fields and in housing estates.Presented here are 150 of these remarkable trees: rag trees, hanging trees, trees at holy wells, trees of exceptional size or age, trees associated with historic events, and trees important to the community. Well-known examples are the ‘Hungry’ Tree at King’s Inns, Dublin, that appears to be consuming a bench; Lady Gregory’s ‘Autograph’ Tree at Coole Park, Galway – a copper beech signed by W. B. Yeats, his brother Jack, George Bernard Shaw, John Masefield, Sean O’Casey and other famous people. Ireland’s oldest native tree is the Silken Thomas Yew tree at St Patrick’s College in Maynooth, with a girth of 14 metres and 700–800 years old. Ireland’s tallest native tree is a 40-metre-high ash tree in the grounds of Marlfield House, Clonmel, County Tipperary. The famous Muckross Friary Yew in Killarney stands in the centre of the ruined Muckross Friary. Not all heritage trees are so dramatic and some can be unremarkable in, such as a lone hawthorn tree at the summit of Freestone Hill, County Kilkenny. So, illustrated with fine photography, these pages present a fascinating world of trees unique to Ireland with connections dating back over thousands of years.

It's been an at times exhausting and frustrating journey with many fruitless excursions and seemingly endless hikes through countryside and undergrowth. But being able to visit and spending time with these remarkable trees made it all worthwhile. The stories of many of these trees made it also a trip into the past and being face to face with these rugged and ancient entities was a humbling experience.
It was also a steep photographic learning curve for me. HDR and other blending techniques were necessary to show my models at their best and many of these procedures were new to me. The Irish weather as always played a big role. Grey skies and high winds are not the best conditions to photograph trees... and I got a lot of these. In the end it all worked out (more or less...) and the outcome is a truly unique publication.
A big thank you to Mary, Aubrey and Kevin for letting me be a part of this project. It's been an honour!

The Heritage Trees of Ireland will be out in October and is a available for pre-order here.

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