Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Graiguecullen residents outraged at felling of trees dating back to 1798 rebellion

Cutting down of the 200-year-old trees at the Croppy Grave in Graiguecullen

Cutting down of the 200-year-old trees at the Croppy Grave in Graiguecullen

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TWO trees which mark the grave of hundreds of Irish rebels in Graiguecullen were chopped down on Wednesday, sparking outrage among local residents.

The trees, a beech and a sycamore, planted at the Croppy Grave on Ninety-Eight Street over 200 years ago, were deemed dangerous by Carlow Co Council and were removed on Wednesday, much to the shock of the local community.

“It’s really disgraceful. It’s our heritage. There’s a lot of history behind those trees. I just can’t believe it,” said Tim Ralph, a local resident.

Like many other residents, Tim was shocked when he discovered the trees being chopped, without any prior notice.

“We didn’t realise it was happening. They didn’t tell us anything. I thought it was disgraceful. They should have contacted the local communities,” he added.

Cllr Walter Lacey,who was “born, bred and reared within a couple of hundred yards” of the trees, was also shocked by the “sudden removal” of the trees, which marked an important part of Irish history.

It is said that 14-year-old Peggy Mullery (née Delaney) planted the trees with a spoon on the site of the mass grave in memory of ‘the poor fellows’ who were buried there. The trees grew into a towering reminder of the 1798 rebellion. A third tree, which was also planted by Peggy, was removed by the council several years ago after it was considered a danger.

This week, residents hit out at the fact that no consultation took place before the removal of the significant trees by contractors Kenneth Davis Ltd.

“It came as a huge shock to residents to see the trees being cut down. It is regrettable that a consultation process was not undertaken, especially because of the significance of these trees and their importance to our history. As one who was reared a few hundred yards from the Croppy, I also very much regret the removal of these trees,” continued cllr Lacey.

However, Noel Dillon, executive engineer with Carlow Co Council, stressed that the trees were removed for health and safety reasons.

“They were deemed dangerous and going to fall. Our gardener, who has a great knowledge of trees, deemed them dangerous and in need of being taken down a while ago. The bottom line is, they were dangerous,” he said, adding that several sections of the trees were saved in order to construct a monument if required.

Plans to plant similar trees in the area are also being considered.

“We are open to suggestions on that. We saved sections of the trees and we can use them for a carving or whatever. It’s not the right time to plant trees, but it was mentioned to possibly do something during tree week. It’s not a case of just cut them down and walk away,” added Noel, who said that notifying residents in advance was “not a regular occurrence” but that “the lack of consultation is somewhat regretted”.

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By Clare Minnock
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