A growth in the demand for real Christmas trees provides a welcome boost to the Irish Forestry Service.

During a three to four week season, the Irish Forestry Service puts as many as 140,000 Christmas trees on the market. This is worth half a million pounds to the service and is regarded as a welcome bonus.

Inspector with the Forest and Wildlife Service Paddy Whyte says there are three main species that are selected as Christmas trees, Norway Spruce, Noble Fir and Lodgepole Pine.

The top of the market is the Noble Fir for the very reason that it doesn’t shed its leaves in the central heating atmosphere, nevertheless, Norway Spruce was the original and the indications are that Norway Spruce will still be the main species for some years to come.

In Cratloe, County Clare forester Peter O’Dwyer gives the historical background to the Christmas tree. The modern Christmas tree began in Germany in the 16 century. Germans brought the custom to America in the 17th century and Queen Victoria’s German husband Prince Albert introduced it to the United Kingdom in the 19th century.

With an individual Noble Fir costing between £3.00 - £4.50 opportunistic cowboy traders are a constant problem for foresters. Paddy Whyte advises them to

Arrange to put out patrols at the weekends, keep the gates closed and keep the barriers locked.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 19 December 1984. The reporter is Michael Walsh.