Cork residents snap up pieces of iconic monkey puzzle tree  

Speaking to the Irish Examiner, councillor Kieran McCarthy says there was a great turnout
Cork residents snap up pieces of iconic monkey puzzle tree  

The monkey puzzle tree before it was badly damaged by Storm Ellen in August.

Pieces of Mahon's monkey puzzle tree, which was irreparably damaged by Storm Ellen in August, were handed out to locals in Cork on Saturday as keepsakes.

After the iconic tree was blown down, Cork city councillor Kieran McCarthy, UCC's Dr Eoin Lettice, O'Callaghan Properties and St Michael's Credit Union joined together to ensure locals with fond memories of the tree could take part of it home. 

Speaking to the Irish Examiner, councillor Kieran McCarthy says there was a great turnout.

"One-hundred and eighty people signed up for a piece initially. St Michael's Credit Union, myself, O'Callaghan Properties and Dr Eoin Lettice were interested in coming together to do something for the tree."

The group met up in late August to inspect the tree. It was too badly damaged to be saved, however, Dr Eoin Lettice noticed there was a baby monkey tree growing beside the older one.

This tree is now feeding off the remnants of its fallen counterpart and should grow tall enough to be seen across Mahon once again.

Dr Eoin Lettice also collected some seeds from the damaged tree.

After the initial inspection, Mr McCarthy suggested cutting the fallen tree into smaller pieces to give to locals. 

Joe Keane from O'Callaghan Properties organised this, arranging for the tree to be cleared from the South Link Road and be cut up.

"A section of it was cut into 180 small blocks, about the size of a shoebox," says Mr McCarthy.

He says the locals came out in force, and many expressed an interest in getting hold of bigger pieces.

"Many said they passed the tree every day and it meant something to them, and it had a connection to the local area, especially Mahon and Blackrock.

"There was one family who came down who called it 'Nana's tree', because their grandmother always expressed great interest in the tree and really enjoyed it."

Others said they would hire a woodturner to make a sculpture out of their piece, and a few said they would put a clock into the wood and give it to someone as a Christmas gift.

"Another girl came down with her dad, and she was considering doing a project on the tree for my school's heritage project that I run."

Mr McCarthy adds that the positive response proves that trees mean something to the city and its people, and more tree planting should be encouraged. "Trees matter." 

The Monkey Puzzle Tree being secured for distribution. Picture: Peter Horgan
The Monkey Puzzle Tree being secured for distribution. Picture: Peter Horgan

Native to South America, Araucaria araucana or the monkey puzzle tree is a conifer and is currently endangered in the wild due to excessive logging.

Mahon's tree is a remnant of William H Crawford's Lakelands estate.

William Crawford II was a businessman, plant collector and philanthropist in the late 1800s.

His father founded the Beamish and Crawford brewery.

"It was really an experiment William Crawford the second did in the 1840s and 1850s. He grew this big tree in the back garden of his mansion, which is now an overgrown space next to Jacob's Island," says Mr McCarthy.

"Somewhere underneath the earth are the foundations of an old house." 

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