There are just seven days left to vote for Charleville estate's King Oak tree and help it become European Tree of the Year. The tree that has stood just outside Tullamore for between 400 and 800 years was entered into the European Tree of the Year competition by Tom Roche of Just Forests, and he's hoping vast numbers will turn their fondness for the tree into votes and record a win.
Most Tullamore residents have intereacted with the King Oak at some point in their lives. The tree's lower branches now touch the ground and stretch to an amazing 50 metres, and it's thought it's a descendant of Ireland's original oak forests.
Speaking about the tree Tom Roche said he remembers the King Oak tree from his childhood. "As a young boy growing up in Tullamore, my fascination with the King Oak was tinged with fear," he said. "As children we were told that if a branch fell from the tree a member of the Earls of Charleville would at that die. In 1963 a bolt of lightening did strike the tree and true to legend, Colonel Charles Hutton-Bury, the famous explorer and last of the Charleville line, fell dead."
The European Tree of the Year will not be the oldest, tallest, biggest, rarest or most beautiful of trees necessarily. What organisers say they are searching for is the most lovable tree, and a tree with a story that can bring a community together.
Other finalists in the competition are a lime tree in the Czech Republic, mulberry and walnut trees is Bulgaria and plane trees in Hungary, western Slovakia and south Poland.
To vote for Charleville's King Oak visit http://www.treeoftheyear.org before February 28. The winner of the competition will be announced on March 1.