President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, has visited Offaly today to launch the 'Giants Grove' Project on the grounds of Birr Castle and Gardens. Birr Castle's 'Giants Grove' is an ambitious plan to create, through public participation, the largest grove of giant redwoods outside their native California. Pupils from Gaelscoil na Laochra, Birr and Kildorrery National School, Cork, who have been nurturing seedlings for the project, also took part in the ceremony.
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 loved ones gone before us. A certificate is provided with GPS details of your place in the Giants Grove. In addition to paying for the planting and establishment costs, sponsorship, starting at €500, provides a trust fund for the care & maintenance of the forest grove.
As well as a certificate of dedication, the names of the sponsors are inscribed in a book of honour at Birr Castle. Each sponsor also receives membership of Crann – ‘Trees for Ireland’ for one year. Trees have been purchased from the US, New Zealand, Canada, the UK, other countries in Europe and Ireland. Further details are available www.giantsgrove.ie
This afternoon President of Ireland Michael D Higgins, who is patron of Crann – ‘Trees for Ireland’ planted a tree, which has been named in his honour, in Giants Grove, as part of the legacy project there initiated by Lord Rosse and Crann – ‘Trees for Ireland’. Birr Castle Estate has allocated the land for the project.
Lord Rosse said: “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 Micheal 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 is 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," he continued.
He went on to say that he was "honoured" to have the President visit as this project is very close to his heart. "Our grandchildren, their grandchildren, Birr, Ireland and the world will benefit from this magnificent forest grove. These will be the biggest trees in Ireland and the largest collection outside of California, fittingly here in Birr in a place which has the biggest treehouse 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. 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 is delighted to be a partner with Birr Castle in the development of Giants Grove saying “We in Crann are delighted to be a partner with Birr Castle in the development of 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.”
For more information about the Giants Grove project at Birr, you can click here.
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