> Hi! I live in Shillelagh, Co. Wicklow, which was at the centre of the
> old Coolattin/Fitzwilliam estate. I am not qualified to answer your
> larger question, but local records here claim that Shillelagh oak was
> used in the roof of Westminster Cathedral. Interestingly, at the lying
> in state of the late Queen Mary a few years back, the BBC commentator
> referred to the roof as being made of "British oak", which technically,
> I suppose, it was when the cathedral was built. Again, local sources
> claim that Shillelagh oak was used in making the keels of (sailing)
> ships for the Royal Navy. The remains of the local Tomnafinnoge oak
> forest, where trees are now measured in tens rather than thousands after
> the commercial devastation of the 1970s, is reputed to be the last
> self-seeding oak forest in Ireland.
I think it will have some rivals for that title... the biggest problem in this regard is
the general lack of proper records, though a recently-completed survey may help change
If further and more reliable
> information is required I wouldn't mind checking references and
> confirming details as I have an interest in local history and have been
> doing some preliminary research here.
There are several versions of the Westminster Cathedral / Westminster Hall / Worcester
Cathedral stories, with origins varying depending on the version, some pointing to woods
in Co Clare, others to Co Dublin, others again to Wicklow etc. It is this variation that
really started me wondering - if they're unsure where the wood came from in Ireland, are
they sure it came from Ireland at all...?
The idea of "Irish" as a description rather than a statement of origin comes from
comments such as "massive timber, Irish and unsawed" where we might have expected a
different phrasing such as "Irish timber, massive and unsawed". As it stands, "Irish"
could easily be replaced with "dark", "rough", "thick" or "whole" without causing any
reader to pause.
Again, this is no more than a notion asking for comment - hardly a firm argument of any
> I hope the spud masher didn't rust from neglect nor the butter burn
> during your oaken reverie ;-D I am not so sure though that "tough,
> reliable, rough-cut and of large size" would be an accurate description
> of most of the locals here!
Times change... probably not for the better.
As a side-note on trees, as part of an effort to protect Clonmel in Co Tipperary from
future flooding, the council has chosen to remove all the trees lining the banks of the
River Suir from about a half km upstream to a good km downstream (possibly further),
much to my dismay - and that of many others. This has included many aspen along a
stretch of the north bank (Shae may be familiar with these?) where last year I found
evidence of the Lunar Hornet Moth - not the most common of beasties - in residence.
Removing the aspen effectively removes a habitat for a species that would, if we
actually had a functioning official system for identifying Ireland's rare and threatened
moth species, have probably ensured these trees were not felled. Too late.
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