Monday, December 7, 2009

Branching Out

December 7th 09

Branching Out.

‘Everybody should plant a tree they will never sit under,’ said your man.

He was in one of his moods. It was Saturday morning. We had dashed from
Wicklow to be at Stormont for 10.30 on Saturday morning. The Stormont estate is huge but due to the developing relationship between this Blog and the Minister with responsibility for tree planting on the demesne, another little bit of land was being conceded to subversive native trees.

Go raibh maith agat Sammy Wilson.

First we take Manhattan.

Then we take Berlin.

The tree planting project had started as an effort by this Blog and the Ulster Camogie Board to plant Ash trees for hurling sticks, then it moved into a partnership with The Peoples Forest who have a great mission to reforest Ireland and from there into an effort with others to get into the Guinness Book of Records by planting one million trees in one hour simultaneously in different places.

So camogs, footballers, hurlers, rugby hulks, the indefatigable Maeve Kyle and a fine string of young athletes from Ballymena, a broth of boxers led by Brian Magee, a soccer fanatic or two, alongside a fleet of lady hockey players, girls from Bloomfield and a motley crew of young and less young tree planters assembled at the far back of Parliament Buildings.

That’s when your man came off with his ‘everybody should plant a tree that they will never sit under’ remark. He was trying to impress the hockey ladies. This Blog joined a team made up of Naomh Eoin stalwarts. They were all females. A granny, a mammy and their daughters or grand daughters. While your man swanned about flirting with the other ladies we went to reconnoitre the terrain.

The granny obviously had military experience.

‘We need diggers, planters and heelers’ she declared, ‘and tree carriers’.

‘You are a digger’ she told me ‘you dig. We will come behind you. Some of us will plant, some will heel in the baby trees, the rest will carry the trees up to us. Ok’ she barked.

‘Yes mam’ we replied.

And so it came to be. When the whistle blew we all fell to with a will. I dug like a demon. Your man had signed up to verify the proceedings.

‘Don’t forget your shovel’ he jibbed at me.

Our granny saw him off. She was a real motivator. Half way through she encouraged us to sing. So we sang. Like galley slaves. Christmas chorals in Irish. The hour passed like a flash. Edwin Poots the Minister for the Environment joined us. Well he didn’t actually join our team but he did join the effort.

In the end we planted three thousand and seven Ash and Oak trees. All in one hour. Your man tried to suck up to Edwin. In vain. Edwin is no dope. He knows the sort your man is.

‘This was a collective act of treeson’ your man told him.

We all give a big cheer. Your man invited Edwin and the hockey ladies back home for a fry and I invited the Naomh Eoin ladies back here in thirty years time to sit under our trees.

The granny gave your man a hug. Some women will do anything for a fry. And that was that. A fine mornings work.

And Stormont was looking a wee bit greener as we left.

The Yellow Bittern

The sad news this weekend is of Liam Clancy’s death. This Blog was reared on the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem. When the brothers went their way Liam went on to build both a solo career of his own and a brilliant partnership with Tommy Makem. His death brings an end to an era of Irish music.

We thank him for his massive contribution.

Go ndeanfaidh Dia trocáire air.

Slán Francie

Francie Brolly is retiring from the Assembly. This is his last week as an MLA for East Derry.

Francie has been a stalwart republican for decades and a life long Irish language and GAA activist. He is also a well known and respected musician and singer/songwriter who with his wife Anne has recorded many albums and written many songs, including The H-Block Song.

I have known Francie for a long time. He will be missed in the Assembly and the corridors of Parliament Buildings where he was a strong advocate of the Irish language. I wish him well. I know that leaving the Assembly does not mean political retirement and that Francie will continue to contribute to the republican cause.


Paul Doran said...


A great blog, very funny. Any photo's' of Mr Poots. A Down GAA Supporter I believe!!

Paula said...

Looks like Richards doing a spot of work for a change. How come you can get him to do the mucky stuff and I cant.?

Timothy Dougherty said...

thanks for the trees Gerry. I sure that many a man and dog with thank you in the time to come. As W.B. Yeats has said in his poem "The Collar-bone of a Hare "
WOULD I could cast a sail on the water
Where many a king has gone
And many a king’s daughter,
And alight at the comely trees and the lawn,
The playing upon pipes and the dancing,
And learn that the best thing is
To change my loves while dancing
And pay but a kiss for a kiss.

Jonathan said...

This has nothing to do with your post. I want to visit Ireland. I'm not interested in toursim. I want, I NEED to visit Derry, Belfast, Milltown Cemetery, 53 Falls Road, and whatever remains of Long Kesh. Who handles such a request? What agency would be especially equipped to handle this? I want to learn.

Ed Feighan said...

Hi Gerry, You have to tell Paula she needs to bark at Richard the way the granny did. Poor Richard, all the work he does for you and Sinn Fein and his own office staff doesn"t recognize his digging skills. P.S Thur. Dec 9Philadelphia city council is going to vote on a resolution supporting a United Ireland, 9;45am room 400 at city hall.E.F.

Micheal said...

A brilliant hour well spent Gerry. A careful and wise custodianship of the land should be a mandatory priority for any nation.

It just goes to underline how fragmented and distorted things have become in so-called modern societies that campaign groups are required to make a positive difference to the environment.

One of the things that I've always admired in the English is their management ability with regard to the land.

I would, however, prefer to see a dispensation within which all of the people of the nation have a chance to engage in the custodianship process, in similar ways to that what you have described.

Personally, I don't feel the kind of affinity toward Irish people who don't support a United Ireland as I do with those who do.

"The Rising of the moon" is one of my favorite Makem and Clancey numbers although I don't think that they would have written it. I suspect it's a centuaries old Irish folk tune.