Offaly Independent

Published: Tuesday, 18th February, 2014 11:00am

Call for votes as Irish Tree of Year entry in Birr falls

Profile by Laura Ryder

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The Grey Poplar in Birr that is Ireland's European Tree of the Year entry fell last week.
Pic by==: 97

The winner of the European Tree of the Year competition is not the biggest, tallest or most beautiful tree, but rather a tree with a story.

The story surrounding Ireland’s entry in the competition - a Grey Poplar in Birr Castle Demesne - took a twist last week, when the tree was uprooted after particularly stormy weather.

Now nominator Tom Roche of Just Forests is hoping the sad event will encourage people to vote the entry from its current position of third last to top by February 28.

“It’s so far behind,” Tom said, calling for votes for the 200-year-old tree at www.treeoftheyear.org.

Though no longer standing, the Grey Poplar that has graced the banks of the Camcor since being planted in 1800 or so is to continue to feature in Birr Castle Demesne into the future.

The body of the giant tree remains where it fell last week, and Tom says plans are being put in place for its trunk to be carved into a seat and bench during the summer months.

"It’ll continue to be there, but in a new form,” he explained.

The tree’s current challenge - winning the accolade of European Tree of the Year - is a particularly difficult one.

At time of writing it’s lagging behind the vote leader - a Field Elm in Bulgaria - by some 40,000 votes.

Also in the competition are Pedunculate Oaks in Slovakia, Czech Republic and Wales; a Pedunculate Oak bonsai in France; a Wild Pear tree in Hungary; an English Oak in Poland; a Sessile Oak in Scotland and a Downy Oak in Italy.

Birr’s Grey Poplar was until it fell the largest of its kind in both Ireland and Britain. It was considered a natural hybrid of Ireland’s native Aspen and the White Poplar of contintental Europe and Asia.

Votes will be accepted at www.treeoftheyear.org until February 28. An award ceremony will be held on March 19 next.

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