You could reasonably say that trees are firmly rooted in Irish culture. The ancient Celts revered them, with sacred trees located in the heart of their settlements, rooting them to their home.
In today’s post we’ll travel back through Irish history, through the lens of Trees in Ireland. From the time before the era of the Celts, through to today, with a look to Ireland’s forested future.
Image: Spectacular roots of a native Irish tree in Baltrath Woods Co. Meath
But before we get to all that, I am delighted to host a giveaway from the fabulous folks at My Irish Jeweler.
To celebrate their new initiative that will see them plant one Native Irish Tree in Ireland for every order on their site, they have given us a beautiful Sterling Silver Celtic Tree of life pendant for one lucky winner.
But before I share the details of how you can enter our giveaway and win this elegant pendant, let’s take a look back through the history of Trees in Ireland.
Driving through the beautiful rolling green hills of the Irish countryside today or even looking at stunning images of the stark and spectacular Irish coastline on Instagram, you could be forgiven for thinking that this was never a heavily forested country.
The beautiful patchwork quilt of green fields of every hue, that greets any visitor to Ireland as they come in to land in Dublin or Shannon, is a relatively late addition to the Emerald Isle.
Ireland was once blanketed in lush green woodland. With the exception of the craggiest corners of Donegal and Connemara, over 80% of this small island was forested.
And it was this wooded landscape filled with majestic species like the mighty oak, interspersed with elegant birch, ash, hazel, holly and rowan that greeted hunter gatherers in Ireland around 12,500 years ago.
Trees and the Celts:
And it largely remained unchanged through to the arrival of the Celts around 2500 years ago.
The Celts revered trees and placed huge value in the food, shelter, and materials that they provided. The Tree of Life, or the Crann Bethadh in Gaelic, could be found at the centre of Celtic settlements.
It was believed trees could act as a sort of doorway, a sacred connection to the gods, spirits and ancestors.
Tree branches reached up to the gods, while the trunk and roots grounded in the earth connected humanity with spirits below.
The English word door might even derive from the Gaelic word for the most revered of all trees in Celtic society, an dair, or ‘the oak’.
It was only with the waning of a strong Celtic society between 1200 and 1300AD, that saw the rich Irish forests starting to give way.
A growing population and the agriculture and grazing needed to sustain it required more and more land to be cleared. And so Ireland’s ancient forests began to disappear.
Deforestation accelerated in the 1500’s. The Plantations of Ireland and their English settlers saw Irish woodland as a valuable source of timber. And Irish forest cover declined to around 12%
But it wasn’t until the 1800’s and industrialization that the deforestation of Ireland reached it’s peak. Only 1% of the island's forests remained.
It was a happy side-effect for the ruling English class that the eradication of Irish forests also got rid of many of the hiding places used by Irish rebels fighting crown rule.
And with that, in the span of a few hundred years, 79% of Irish forest, long respected, protected and revered, was lost.
And it is largely the landscape of the 1800’s that we see in Ireland today.
However with careful management Irish forests have recovered. They are now close to 11%.
But compared to the 30%+ of forest and woodland cover in Canada, much of Europe, and the USA, Ireland lags far behind.
But that number is still climbing and many organizations in Ireland are working as never before to reforest the emerald Isle.
My Irish Jeweler and Reforesting Ireland:
And it was this focus that inspired the team at My Irish Jeweler to get involved in reforesting Ireland, returning native Irish trees to the Irish landscape.
Speaking to the founders of My Irish Jeweler, Peter and Ciaran, they explained that,
“All of us here at My Irish Jeweler are passionate about connecting people, wherever they are, to their Irish roots, their HOME. The word HOME even features in our Ogham logo!
So it seemed only natural that we would go that little bit further for our customers, helping them literally put down roots in Ireland with each order of our beautiful handcrafted Irish jewelry."
“Our customers have their own piece of Ireland in our 100% Irish jewelry. And now they can feel happy in the knowledge that they are helping us keep our lovely island green.
We are very excited about this new initiative! Since starting in July 2019 we have already got over 100 native Irish trees ready for planting. We hope to plant well over 1000 trees by next year!”
More About My Irish Jeweler:
This attention to detail and focus on the customer is a hallmark of My Irish Jeweler. They pride themselves on giving each customer the personal care and attention they might expect in a bricks and mortar store.
And a visit to their website will wow you. With their stunning photography, the quality and craft of their iconic Irish designs is clear for all to see.
Irish and Celtic designs like the Claddagh, Celtic crosses, Shamrocks, Trinity knots, and Irish Harps sit alongside striking hand engraved Ogham and Gaelic pieces making for a truly impressive collection with something to suit every taste.
And fans of Irish mythology will not be disappointed as they have designs that reference the Children of Lir, or Danu, the Celtic goddess.
These designs are carefully crafted in Ireland in a variety of precious metal options, including platinum; yellow, white, and rose gold; sterling silver; and palladium.
The Irish rose gold used in several of their pieces is sourced from the hills of Co. Tyrone.
They also have designs set with diamonds; emeralds; sapphire; ruby; birthstones; pearls; and of course the “Irish Gemstone,” Connemara marble.
Their jewelry is handmade in Ireland and thus bears the Hibernian Hallmark of the Dublin Assay Office, guaranteeing the quality of the materials and their Irish origin.
Each piece is express shipped in a beautiful keepsake box with helpful guides, printed on recycled paper, and an Irish postcard.
And of course they have not just pendants, but rings, earrings and bracelets that draw their inspiration from the Celtic Tree of Life.
My Irish Jeweler Giveaway:
And if you would like to have your very own Celtic Tree of Life you can enter our giveaway.
Just leave a comment on this blog post by Sunday, October 13th 2019. If you are looking for inspiration you could tell us about a favorite tree? Or a treasured piece of Celtic jewelry that you own.
A winning comment will be chosen randomly on Sunday, October 13th 2019. You can check out the terms and conditions for all of our sweepstakes here if you would like to know more.
The lucky winner will also be announced on October 13th, 2019 on this blog post so do check back.
Do remember to submit your e-mail. Don’t worry your email won’t be published or shared, I'll just use it to contact our lucky winner.
More About My Irish Jeweler - A Business With Strong Roots:
Launched by Peter Gavin and Ciaran Vipond in 2005, My Irish Jeweler is the latest incarnation of a family jewelry business that stretches back to 1947, when Peter's grandfather opened a successful jewelry store in Dublin.
In 1963 it was Peter's father’s turn. He established College House Jewellers on Nassau St., overlooking historic Trinity College. And after completing his jewelers training, Peter joined the business a year later in 1964.
He ran College House Jewellers for over fifty years before joining forces with Ciaran in 2005 to move online with My Irish Jeweler.
Ciaran and Peter now have a small showroom for visitors seen by appointment at My Irish Jeweler in the foothills of the Dublin mountains. But the bulk of their business is online with an international audience. As Peter says,
“I always enjoyed doing ‘mail order’ for customers abroad. With My Irish Jeweler, I hoped to bring our beautiful designs to a global audience.”
Get 20% Off At My Irish Jeweler For Their Birthday:
Well Peter and the team certainly seem to be doing something right! On October 8th, 2019 My Irish Jeweler will be celebrating their 14th Birthday.
And to mark the date they are gifting their customers 20% off all jewelry.
Please do share this giveaway with your family and friends who might appreciate a chance to win a lovely Sterling Silver Tree of Life Pendant from Ireland.
Or perhaps you may know someone who would appreciate the 20% discount available on October 8th. It's a perfect time for some early Christmas shopping.
Thanks to everyone who enters this little giveaway by leaving a comment.
Wishing Ciaran, Peter and the team at My Irish Jeweler every success with their wonderful business and their admirable efforts to share Irish Culture while reforesting Ireland!
Update – Winner Chosen On October 13th, 2019:
Our lucky winner has been randomly chosen using the Pick Giveaway Winner Plug-in for WordPress.
And the lucky reader is ….
I'll send Robin an email to help coordinate mailing of her beautiful prize.
A big thank you to everyone for supporting this Irish American Mom giveaway by leaving comments. And many thanks to the good folks from My Irish Jeweler for sponsoring this prize.
Slán agus beannacht,
(Goodbye and blessings)
Irish American Mom
P.S. Disclaimer Notice: I do not have a financial relationship with My Irish Jeweler. The links above are not affiliate links. I team up with Irish and Irish American craftspeople to help spread the word about their work, and to help promote ancient skills, culture and craft to keep our heritage alive and well.
I will always disclose to you if I have an affiliate relationship with a company, artist or craftsperson. Thanks as always for reading.
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