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President Unveils Ambitious Legacy Project 'Giants Grove' In Birr Castle

Thursday, 27 April 2017

President Unveils Ambitious Legacy Project 'Giants Grove' In Birr Castle thumbnailPresident of Ireland Michael D. Higgins with Henry Clements, grandson of Lord Rosse after planting a redwood seedling at the launch of the 'Giants Grove' in Birr Castle Demesne on Friday last. MT17230JOC

THE world's largest grove of giant redwoods, outside of California, growing in Birr may sound a bit far-fetched. But, it's become a reality with the unveiling of the ambitious 'Giants Grove' within the historic gardens of Birr Castle Demesne last week.
The legacy project, initiated by Birr Castle Demesne and Crann - 'Trees For Ireland' - was formally launched by Michael D. Higgins, who is a patron of Crann after he planted a tree, named in his honour, in 'Giants Grove' on Friday last. The project will see 300 magnificent redwood trees planted across eight acres over the next two years with a total of one thousand trees expected to be planted as the Grove expands. Pupils from Gaelscoil na Laochra, Biorra and Kildorrery National School, Cork, who have been nurturing seedlings for the projects, also took part in last week's ceremony.
Speaking at the event, President Higgins enthused it was a 'great pleasure' to be in Birr Castle Demesne for the event. 'This month will be the start of a very exciting project where 300 giant redwood trees will be planted across eight acres over two years. Over time, it will be a thousand redwoods that will become known as 'Giants Grove'. It will be the largest naturalistic plantation of redwoods outside of California. It's an exciting project for Lord Rosse and part of his legacy for future generations. The Giants Grove will be an enduring tribute to our Island's diaspora.'
Later, President Higgins noted the importance of the trees. 'These trees can reach heights of up to 90 metres, with a girth of 80 metres and can live in excess of thousands of years. This event is combining the many issues of ecology, sustainability, survival, renewal, interdependency and a connection between science and the natural environment. I think these giant trees will be a powerful symbol of enduring memories and a flourishing legacy to those who have left our island.' The President commended everyone involved in the project before speaking eloquently about the significance of trees in Irish history.
Concluding, President Higgins wished the 'Giants Grove' well. 'May I wish that the redwoods of the Giants Grove in Birr Castle Demesne grow and prosper, living in harmony, for centuries and millennia, with all of the other trees and plants that thrive in this beautiful place.'
Addressing the crowd earlier, Lord Rosse thanked everyone for coming to support the launch of this 'exciting initiative', which would add to Birr's heritage. 'This launch was planned to draw attention to this project, which is very much linked to Ireland's diaspora. We are deeply honoured that President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins is here today. We are also grateful to the many sponsors attending from places as far away as New Zealand and the US.  It's anticipated that Giants Grove will endure for the next one thousand years or more. Giants Grove gives the opportunity to individuals at home and abroad to create this magnificent redwood forest grove in the heart of the Irish midlands.'
'It is designed to signify the giant place that our sons and daughters have in our hearts. Here we can also honour the memory of loved ones gone before us. The return to Ireland of redwoods, which were native here before the geologically recent ice age, is a symbol of Ireland's global concern for biodiversity enhancement and conservation, especially at the present time where climate change represents a threat to the long-term survival of redwoods in California.'
Continuing, Lord Rosse noted 'our grandchildren, their grandchildren, Birr, Ireland and the world will benefit from this magnificent forest grove. These will be the biggest trees in Ireland, the largest collection outside of California, fittingly here in Birr in a place, which has the biggest tree house in Ireland and also had the largest telescope in the world for over 70 years. We would like to offer everyone the opportunity to be part of a Redwood Forest Grove here in Ireland here in Ireland. By investing in this project with us, the sponsors will have the opportunity to make a personal impact on Ireland's environment and world biodiversity conservation. Even if your family has long left Ireland, by investing in the Giants Grove you can ensure their family roots remain in Ireland for generations to come.'
Diarmuid McAree, a Director of Crann - 'Trees for Ireland' also expressed his delight at partnering with Birr Castle Demesne in the development of the 'Giants Grove'. 'Irish people all over the world have roots in Ireland but, due to life choices and circumstance, they cannot or do not live here. By sponsoring redwoods in Giants Grove, our diaspora and their families in Ireland can plant redwood roots in Birr which will grow, thrive and sustain our environment, and enrich all our lives.'
To date, almost ninety giant or coastal redwood trees are sponsored in the names of Irish people living abroad as well as people here at home. Some trees have also been purchased in the names of deceased loved ones gone. A certificate is provided with GPS details of the tree's position in the Grove. In addition to paying for the planting and establishment costs, sponsorship, starting at €500 provides a trust fund for the care and maintenance of the forest grove. Visiting last week, the O'Driscoll family were delighted with the initiative after they decided to sponsor two redwood trees in memory of two deceased family members. 'A few of us have actually visited the Redwoods in California. We also have had other connections with them over the years and we thought it would be a nice idea,' they said. Further details are available www.giantsgrove.ie .

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