Trees are one of Ireland's most precious pieces of heritage, remarkable for many reasons such as their age, size, location in the landscape, botanical attributes, aesthetic appeal, and historical and folklore connections. Ireland has a rich but threatened heritage of such trees, found in our native woodlands, historic parklands and estates, along roadsides and in hedgerows, agricultural fields and occasionally in housing estates and development sites. 150 of these remarkable tress are presented here: rag trees, hanging trees, trees at holy wells, those of exceptional size or age, trees associated with historical/military events, and trees important to the community. Well-known examples are the 'Hungry' Tree at King's Inns, Dublin, a London plane that appears to be consuming a bench; Lady Gregory's 'Autograph' Tree at Coole Park, Galway - it is a copper beech signed by WB Yeats, his brother Jack, George Bernard Shaw, the poet John Masefield, Sean O'Casey and other famous people. Ireland's oldest native tree is the Silken Thomas Yew tree in the grounds of St Patrick's College in Maynooth. It has a girth of 14 metres and is 700-800 years old.
As for Ireland's tallest native tree, it is a 40-metres high ash tree growing in the grounds of Marlfield House, Clonmel, Co Tipperary. The Muckross Friary Yew in Killarney stands in the centre of the cloisters of the ruined Muckross Friary, one of the most famous trees in Ireland. Not all heritage trees are so dramatic and some can be quite unremarkable in appearance. For example, a lone hawthorn tree marks the summit of Freestone Hill, Co. Kilkenny and folklore prevents its removal. So, illustrated with fine photography, these pages present a fascinating world of trees unique to Ireland with connections dating back over thousands of years.show more