The Murder of the Trees – A Sign of the Dying Soul of a Once Proud Nation

On Monday 12th September 2011, 65 year old Irish woman Teresa Treacy was told by Judge Daniel Herbert that he had no choice but to uphold the law and ordered that she be jailed for contempt of the court orders which had ordered her to allow the Irish Electricity Supply Board (ESB) to enter her land to instal electricity pylons. Teresa refused them entry and so now at the age of 65,  she finds herself in prison.

She said: “The route is cutting through our forest and the old Whitethorn hedgerows. For over 25 years I have used all my time and energy getting our lands into a place of natural beauty and overnight it can be destroyed with high powered lines going through forests beside the old bridge, the old laneway and through the new Oak and Ash woods I planted over 20 years ago. I have spent many years replacing dead trees and cutting gorse with my hands. I filled containers with water from the river so that my forest is a model. All my trees have been pruned individually by me to promote their growth”

“My heart is broken by the thought that they may be uprooted and thrown away. I know I will never see them in their full glory but was satisfied knowing that others would enjoy them long into the future”

Ms Treacy outlined her objections in a number of letters to the ESB and arranged a number of meetings with them to request that the powerlines be constructed underground for the following reasons.

1) The Health & Safety risks, including cancer risks which are increasingly associated with overhead powerlines as a result of Electro Magnetic Fields (EMF).

2) The fact that she has always maintained and improved her land as a natural habitat which includes native trees, old and new, cared for and/or planted by herself for future generations as a sustainable natural resource, through which the ESB want to smash.

3) The fact that the undergrounding of powerlines is now considered to be best practice across Europe. Ireland and the ESB are at the bottom of the league in terms of catching up with international standards and the progress which has been made to ensure that underground powerlines are the progressive way forward.

The ESB were also pointed to a recent decision in 2006 to underground the Bantry (Colomane – Ballylickey) 38kV powerline, which arose out of intense local protest opposing the overgrounding of that line.

But what is most evident in this case is how much Ireland as a nation has lost its soul. This was a country that once enshrined the protection of trees in its Brehon Laws, a country who has songs that lament the loss of the forests at the hands of invading forces, and who is famous for fighting for justice and equality around the world.

Well what about standing up for its own heritage? Ireland is still a beautiful island but every day the beauty is eroded by  poor planning decisions, ghost estates, architectural blights on a beautiful landscape and now angry wounds gashed across beautiful woodland and for what? Cost savings that show short term gain and long term devastation?

Is ESB not state owned? And who is the state? Is it not the people? And what is wrong with the people? Have they become so lost in the economic meltdown that they have forgotten that the true wealth of a nation lies in its natural resources, its heritage, its culture and its beauty? Well the rest of the world won’t accept that from Ireland. The nation which has done so much for other countries in their time of need must start doing the same for itself.

Fight for your woodlands Ireland, they are your soul and it is time to get your soul back. Ireland was once the centre of learning for the western world. There is no reason it can’t be that again but to regain its position it must claim back its true history and the bedrock for that history was firmly rooted in its deep connection to the trees.

The Ogham alphabet is based on trees. The Brehon Laws, a highly evolved and far seeing legal code, devoted a whole section to tree laws. Trees in fact are so intrinsically linked to the Irish psyche that until their importance is restored, Ireland will not thrive.

Letters of support can be sent to: Teresa Treacy/ Dochas/ Monthjoy Womens’ Prison/ North Circular RD/ Dublin 7/ Eire
To become involved, call Niall on 086 8444966.
For MEDIA, email Teresa Treacy Support Group – teresatreacysupportgroup at riseup dot net

Update October 5th:

Update October 6th: Teresa Treacy freed as court discharges order. She is still insistent that she will not comply with the court order

Caoine Cill Chais  –  The Lament for Kilcash

tr. Thomas Kinsella

Cad a dhéanfaimid feasta gan adhmad?
Tá deireadh na gcoillte ar lár;
níl trácht ar Chill Chais ná ar a teaghlach
is ní bainfear a cling go bráth.
An áit úd a gcónaíodh an deighbhean
fuair gradam is meidhir thar mhnáibh,
bhíodh iarlaí ag tarraingt tar toinn ann
is an t-aifreann binn á rá.Ní chluinim fuaim lachan ná gé ann,
ná fiolar ag éamh cois cuain,
ná fiú na mbeacha chun saothair
thabharfadh mil agus céir don tslua.
Níl ceol binn milis na n-éan ann
le hamharc an lae a dhul uainn,
ná an chuaichín i mbarra na ngéag ann,
ós í chuirfeadh an saol chun suain.Tá ceo ag titim ar chraobha ann
ná glanann le gréin ná lá,
tá smúid ag titim ón spéir ann
is a cuid uisce go léir ag trá.
Níl coll, níl cuileann, níl caor ann,
ach clocha is maolchlocháin,
páirc an chomhair gan chraobh ann
is d’imigh an géim chun fáin.Anois mar bharr ar gach míghreann,
chuaigh prionsa na nGael thar sáil,
anonn le hainnir na míne
fuair gradam sa bhFrainc is sa Spáinn.
Anois tá a cuallacht á caoineadh,
gheibheadh airgead buí agus bán;
‘s í ná tógfadh seilbh na ndaoine,
ach cara na bhfíorbhochtán.Aicim ar Mhuire is ar Íosa
go dtaga sí arís chughainn slán,
go mbeidh rincí fada ag gabháil timpeall,
ceol veidhlín is tinte cnámh;
go dtógtar an baile seo ár sinsear
Cill Chais bhreá arís go hard,
is go bráth nó go dtiocfaidh an díle
ná feictear é arís ar lár.
Now what will we do for timber,
With the last of the woods laid low?
There’s no talk of Cill Chais or its household
And its bell will be struck no more.
That dwelling where lived the good lady
Most honoured and joyous of women
— earls made their way over wave there
And the sweet Mass once was said.2. Ducks’ voices nor geese do I hear there,
Nor the eagle’s cry over the bay,
Nor even the bees at their labour
Bringing honey and wax to us all.
No birdsong there, sweet and delightful,
As we watch the sun go down,
Nor cuckoo on top of the branches
Settling the world to rest.3. A mist on the boughs is descending
Neither daylight nor sun can clear.
A stain from the sky is descending
And the waters receding away.
No hazel nor holly nor berry
But boulders and bare stone heaps,
Not a branch in our neighbourly haggard,
and the game all scattered and gone.4. Then a climax to all of our misery:
the prince of the Gael is abroad
oversea with that maiden of mildness
who found honour in France and Spain.
Her company now must lament her,
who would give yellow money and white
— she who’d never take land from the people
but was friend to the truly poor.5. I call upon Mary and Jesus
to send her safe home again:
dances we’ll have in long circles
and bone-fires and violin music;
that Cill Chais, the townland of our fathers,
will rise handsome on high once more
and till doom — or the Deluge returns —
we’ll see it no more laid low.

The Brehon Laws

Letter to the Irish Independent – Thursday September 29 2011

•Offaly woman Teresa Treacy deserves an award instead of a prison term for her courage and tenacity in resisting the ESB’s move to cut down her beloved trees.

The evergreens, oak, ash and birch that she has tended to are more than just lumps of inert or lifeless matter. They are among our most precious resources on this planet.

They beautify any landscape and lend character to even the dullest countrified scene that can greet the eye. They protect us from the elements — how many times have we run to seek shelter underneath a tree, confident that the loving canopy of its leaves and branches would save us from a ducking?

I think of the song often sung by the legendary Irish tenor John McCormack: “I think that I shall never see, a poem lovely as tree.”

And trees act as the lungs of our planet, in reducing the level of air pollution, sucking in carbon dioxide and exhaling life-giving oxygen. They remove substances like ozone and nitrogen oxides from the air, thus contributing to a healthier and less toxic environment.

From time immemorial, mystics have perceived angelic beings living in trees, and colourful auras radiating from them.

Whatever one makes of this claim, there can be no doubt as to their intrinsic value in the natural order of things. Teresa Treacy is certainly on the side of the angels in taking her stand against the tree choppers.

It’s the crooked bankers, corrupt politicians and greedy developers who should be tasting prison food, not this gentle but sturdy and determined woman, who has more decency in any one of her green fingers than all those betrayers of our nation combined.

John Fitzgerald
Callan, Co Kilkenny

Trees in Irish History~

Traditionally, living trees have played a central role in the practical daily and spiritual lives of the Irish people. They served as landmarks and bastions of family and clan identity, and their importance can be measured by great number tree-based place-names in Ireland – out of 16,000 town lands in Ireland, 13,000 are named after trees. Sacred trees were planted at holy wells, and churches were created at the site of sacred trees and groves. Cultural ceremonies and celebrations were often performed at a tree. When clans were at war, often they would target the enemy’s Monument Tree rather than their fortress or dwellings as the subject of an attack. Living trees have also provided an educational setting, from the groves of the ancient Celts, renowned throughout Europe, to the hedgerow schools of more recent times. Ogham, the native Irish alphabet was founded on tree associations. Irish myth, story, and music abounds with references to particular trees, and demonstrating the degree to which they were understood and valued by the people.

Living trees served as the foundation for a multi-layered ecosystem which provided an abundance of food crops and medicinal products made from fruits, nuts, seeds, leaves, flowers, stem, bark, and roots. They also provided food and habitat for animals, who were in turn used for food and clothing. Coppiced and sustainably managed woodland supplied a renewable source of wood tools and building materials. Indeed, the importance of trees in the lives of the Irish people can be gleaned by observing Brehon Law, Ireland’s native legal system, and the degree to which it protected living trees and discouraged unlawful felling. In essence, native woodlands provided the backdrop to and foundation for the development of Irish civilisation.

(From Living Tree Educational Foundation)


One thought on “The Murder of the Trees – A Sign of the Dying Soul of a Once Proud Nation”

  1. Only today,on rte radio! 1did ifind the news (4/10/2011)and hear about Teasa Treacy and her personal battle of the Trees.Back in 1982 I began an odessy when I decided I had to go and live at Greenha Common womens Peace Camp,I lived there for two and a half years after that and went to prison twice in that time.It is well overdue that someone make a stand for the Trees,it nearly happened at Tinahealy oak woods,in the end they were cut down,in Dunlaoghaire where i live 40 poplar trees were cut down because residents complained two of us couldnt stop them,The Glenn of the Downs almost succeded.Trees are partly our lungs,Ive had asthma all my life so I feel for trees a lot ,iplant nuts and seed and pot them up to saplings when I can.I support Teresa and will in what ever capacity i can ,Go Teresa ! ioma jones

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