97. Nannie’s Fun Facts (24)

J.M.J.

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Hello, Friend!  Nannie here!

According to irishfireside.com, “Ireland was once an island of forests.”

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The Tree Council of Ireland concerns itself with “tree planting, management, and conservation.”  The Tree Council also makes effort to make sure “heritage and ancient trees…survive as long as possible…”  (treecouncil.ie)

The website livingtreeeducationalfoundation.org tells us that “Traditionally, living trees have played a central role in the practical and daily lives of the Irish people.” An “8th-century legal tract…classifies (trees) in … groups.”  The oak and the Scots Pine are in the Group called “Nobles of the Wood (Chieftain Trees).”  The Hawthorn (Whitethorn) is in the Group called “Commoners of the Wood (Peasant Trees).”  The Blackthorn is in the Group called “Lower Divisions of the Wood (Shrub Trees).”                                                               “A woodland was one of the most important parts of a landscape, giving sustenance, shelter, and sanctuary to a community.”                                                                                                   One of the “Sacred Trees of Ireland” was “an oak at the mouth of the Shannon, Co. Meath…’Eo Mugna’…  Some of (the sacred trees were reputed to be large enough to shelter a thousand men.”                                                                                                                                                 An oak was “associated with kingship.”

347 The high King of Ireland, Brian Boru, was said to have planted an oak tree!                                 A “huge live oak in Raheen, near Scarriff, Co. Clare…was reputed to have been planted by the Irish king a thousand years ago.” (irishcentral.com)

The blackthorn has been more familiarly used in the making of shillelagh(s)* and walking canes.  We learn at irishfireside.com that the blackthorn can be known to bring hope and also provides safety to the nightingale bird.

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The hawthorn (whitethorn) has berries that the birds love!

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The Tree Council of Ireland tells us that  “Around 12,000 years ago, Ireland was covered in snow and ice.  This was known as the Ice Age.  As the weather became warmer, the snow and ice melted and trees began to grow.”  Seeds of different trees were carried to Ireland by birds, animals and the wind “across the landbridges from Britain and the rest of Europe.  Eventually, the seas rose, the landbridges were flooded and Ireland became an island.  Our native trees are the trees that reached here before we were separated from the rest of Europe.”                                                                                                                                                   Among those native trees were oak and Scots pine.  Maple, hawthorn (whitethorn), and blackthorn are also found in Ireland.

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“Maples are commonly planted in city streets and parks.”  (ucd.ie)

“Ireland’s oldest oak trees are being revived as part of an international campaign to save the forests and to help propagate the DNA of ancient woodlands…Because the oaks are direct descendants of the ancient Irish forests that flourished after the Ice Age, they contain the genetic material best equipped to thrive in the country today.  The Archangel Project (global initiative to propagate the DNA of ancient forests, from ancient Ireland to ancient Greece) co-founder David Milarch says, ‘We want to help Ireland reforest itself.  It’s imperative to reforest the planet, and it makes sense to use the oldest, most iconic trees that ever lived.’  Scattered around Ireland are remnants of the post glacial woodland that covered the country for 9,000 years.”                                                                                                There are ancient oak woods in County Clare that have “remarkable DNA…having been in one place for 1,000 years.”                                                                                                                              A representative of a group called the Woodland League, Andrew St. Ledger, tells us that “the authentic landscape of Ireland is western Atlantic temperate rainforest, dominated by oak.”  Mr. St. Ledger says “We are optimistic our native forests will return.  It will be a slow process and will have to be mostly achieved by the people themselves.  We are a forest people without a forest.  But not forever.”  (irishcentral.com – “Bringing Ireland’s ancient oak trees back to life”  by Jane Walsh)

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Now to our evergreen pines!  The oldest tree in the world is a bristlecone pine…over 5,000 years old in the White Mountains of California.  (livescience.com)                                                  “Scots Pine is known as a pioneer tree, able to thrive in hostile environments and make their surroundings more hospitable to allow other plants to flourish…it was one of the first trees to make a home in Ireland after the last ice age and is the only pine native to the country…A walk through a pine forest is said to invigorate and refresh the soul.  Pine resin has a distinct fresh fragrance that when breathed in can give you a delightful feeling of vitality.”  (ireland-calling.com)

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The Government of Ireland’s Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine tells us that “Scots pine fits naturally into the Irish landscape,” and “has always been significant in Irish history.”  (agriculture.gov.ie)

And, Of course, why wouldn’t Finney love any tree that was called ever…green!

In the visitors centre of the Ceide Fields in northwestern Ireland, there is displayed a “bog pine” which was “uncovered during turf cutting by Patrick Caulfield in Belderrig…It was part of an ancient forest of pine trees which grew on the bog and has been radiocarbon dated to about 4,300 years old.  This tree had fallen over so the trunk is preserved as well as the roots.” This information came from the Ceide Fields portion of museumsofmayo.com.  A trip to this site would be well worth your time as it tells an amazing story of the natural preservation of an agricultural settlement in Ireland thousands of years ago!

God bless you and thank you for visitin’ Finney and me!

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 *A shillelagh is a blackthorn stick or club.

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