Have you ever thought about the trees of Ireland? Have you ever considered how they might be perceived in Irish folk tradition? Folklorists Jonny Dillon and Claire Doohan talk us through the sanctity and veneration of trees.
While rooted in the earth, trees ascend towards the firmament of the Heavens. They likewise renew themselves through the eternal rhythms that govern all living things (those cycles of growth, maturation, decay and rebirth) as they blossom, flower, give fruit and eventually shed their leaves before being reborn anew each spring. Certain of these proud intermediaries between heaven and earth were treated with great veneration by our forebears, and echoes of the worship of sacred trees survives in folk tradition to this day.
Jonny Dillon and Claire Doohan consider their culture born of nature. From sacred trees under which kings of Ireland were inaugurated in times long ago, to the holy woods inhabited by both madmen and saints, and from votive offerings left hanging on the branches of trees growing beside holy wells, to those trees treated with fear and trepidation, understood as they were, as dwellings of the otherworld spirits which live alongside us in the natural landscape. Stay with us for an hour then, as we shelter beneath the branches of tradition, which gift to us the fruits of memory and meaning.
Blúiríní Béaloidis/ Folklore Fragments is a podcast created and produced by The National Folklore Collection/ Cnuasach Bhéaloideas Éireann housed in UCD.