Chip off the old block — master craftsman transforms felled landmark Cork tree 

Renowned chainsaw sculptor John Hayes has created the remarkable sculpture from the remains of a once spectacular 100-ft Monterey Cypress which stood in the heart of Ballyvourney for over a century
Chip off the old block — master craftsman transforms felled landmark Cork tree 

Renowned chainsaw sculptor John Hayes has created the remarkable sculpture from the remains of a once spectacular 100-ft Monterey Cypress

A master craftsman has given a new lease of life to a landmark Cork tree which was at the centre of a felling row almost three years ago.

Renowned chainsaw sculptor John Hayes, who created the remarkable sculpture from the remains of a once spectacular 100-ft Monterey Cypress which stood in the heart of Ballyvourney for over a century, says he hopes local people take ownership of the piece and that it becomes a focal point in the village again.

The tree sculpture depicts ancient legends about St Gobnait, the patron saint of Baile Mhúirne, a bench, pencils, paintbrushes, Ogham stones from the area, and two children who have climbed a stack of books to reach the top. It also includes a carving of the local legendary midwife, Nurse Singleton.
The tree sculpture depicts ancient legends about St Gobnait, the patron saint of Baile Mhúirne, a bench, pencils, paintbrushes, Ogham stones from the area, and two children who have climbed a stack of books to reach the top. It also includes a carving of the local legendary midwife, Nurse Singleton.

“I know so many people were disappointed when the decision was taken to fell the tree. And it was difficult too for those that had to make the decision,” he said.

“We wanted to give ownership of the tree back to the people. I just gave them a lend of my hands for while. Hopefully, our work has given another life to the tree, and now it’s theirs again.” 

The tree, which stood in the car park of Scoil Abán Naofa, was reduced to a 15-ft high stump in 2019 following a decision by the school’s board of management on health and safety grounds.
The tree, which stood in the car park of Scoil Abán Naofa, was reduced to a 15-ft high stump in 2019 following a decision by the school’s board of management on health and safety grounds.

The tree, which stood in the car park of Scoil Abán Naofa, was reduced to a 15-ft high stump in 2019 following a decision by the school’s board of management on health and safety grounds. The move sparked controversy.

But principal Conchúr Ó Luasa asked that a tall stump be left in the hope that something could be done with it in time.

The school then worked with Ballyvourney Tidy Towns Committee and secured funding from the Grousemount Wind Farm and Ealaíon na Gaeltachta, with the balance secured through local donations, to commission Mr Hayes to carve something special from the trunk where it stood.

Mr Hayes and his team from Waterford-based Special Branch Carvers worked with the schoolchildren on the concept and design, and he then spent a month using an array of chainsaws and his 6in Samurai blade, specially made for him in Japan for the finer work, to create Crann na nÓg.

It depicts ancient legends about St Gobnait, the patron saint of Baile Mhúirne, a bench, pencils, paintbrushes, Ogham stones from the area, and two children who have climbed a stack of books to reach the top. It also includes a carving of the local legendary midwife, Nurse Singleton.

Chainsaw artist John Hayes is set to star in the Discovery Channel’s 'A Cut Above', soon, a show described as a 'Great British Bake-Off'-style show, but with chainsaws.
Chainsaw artist John Hayes is set to star in the Discovery Channel’s 'A Cut Above', soon, a show described as a 'Great British Bake-Off'-style show, but with chainsaws.

Ballyvourney Tidy Towns spokesperson Samantha Morton said everyone has their own memories of the tree and everyone felt a sense of loss when it was felled.

“But hopefully, this project has put it back at the heart of the community. There is healing in this tree now,” she said.

Mr Hayes, who has recently returned from the Chetwynd International Chainsaw Carving Championships in Vancouver, is set to star in the Discovery Channel’s  A Cut Above, soon.

Described as a Great British Bake-Off-style show, but with chainsaws, it premiered in Canada on Tuesday and is due to reach European screens in a few weeks.

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