Be part of Giants Grove – the largest forest grove of giant redwoods outside California
Significant new project planned for Birr Castle Gardens in association with Crann – Trees for Ireland
On the occasion of Lord Rosse’s 80th birthday and Crann’s 30th anniversary, Birr Castle and Crann – Trees for Ireland, are delighted to announce ambitious plans to create, through public participation, the largest forest grove of giant redwoods outside of California, within the historic gardens of Birr Castle Gardens.
Space in the Giants Grove of giant or coastal redwood trees will be sponsored in the names of Irish people living abroad as well as people here at home. Space can also be in the names of loved ones gone before us. A certificate will be provided with GPS details of your place in the redwood forest grove. In addition to paying for the planting and establishment costs, sponsorship, starting at €500, will provide a trust fund for the care & maintenance of the forest grove. As well as a certificate of dedication, the names of the sponsors will be inscribed in a book of honour at Birr Castle and online at www.giantsgrove.ie
Giants Grove will be a legacy project initiated by Lord Rosse and Crann. Birr Castle Estate has allocated the land for the project. Lord Rosse said “This project is very close to my heart. Our grandchildren, their grandchildren, Birr, Ireland and the world will benefit from this magnificent forest grove. These will be the biggest trees in Ireland and the largest collection outside of California, fittingly here in Birr in a place which has the biggest treehouse in Ireland and also had the largest telescope in the world for over 70 years. We would like to offer everyone the opportunity to be part of a Redwood Forest Grove here in Ireland. By investing in this project with us, the sponsors will have the opportunity to make a personal impact on Ireland’s environment and world biodiversity conservation. Even if your family has long left Ireland, by investing in the Giants Grove you can ensure their family roots remain in Ireland for generations to come.”
Giants Grove will endure for the next 1000 years or more. Giants Grove gives the opportunity to individuals at home and abroad to create this magnificent redwood forest grove in the heart of the Midlands. It is designed to signify the giant place that our sons and daughters have in our hearts. Here we can also honour the memory of loved ones gone before us. The return to Ireland of redwoods, which were native here before the geologically recent ice age, will be a symbol of Ireland’s global concern for biodiversity enhancement and conservation, especially at the present time where climate change represents a threat to the long term survival of redwoods in California.
Looking back on his 80 years, Lord Rosse says that he and his family are driven by history saying that. “One can’t be otherwise, when you sit at a dining table with your ancestors all looking down at you, going directly back seven or eight generations. My family has been here since 1620. Being reared by my father who kept them alive in our memories by remarking this one built the telescope and that one built the suspension bridge and this one invented the steam turbine and this one invented photography and then he would point a finger at me, and say, what are you going to do? Now with the help of Crann’s expertise we will establish this magnificently unique giant redwood forest grove”
Birr is full of stories and wonderful moments both in Irish and International history, from the building of the largest telescope in the world up to the First World War, to Charles Parsons, who invented the steam turbine that went on to power everything from gas turbines to Rolls Royce engines. Birr had the earliest known suspension bridge. Mary Rosse, wife of the Third Earl, Lord Rosse’s great-great grandmother, was the first great woman photographer in the world, winning a silver medal for photography and leaving behind the oldest photographic dark room in the world, still complete with all the chemicals that she used and still on view in Birr Science Centre.
As Alicia Clements, Lord Rosse’s daughter says, “These are not just Irish success stories, these are stories of global significance that need to be told to show the tradition Ireland has of scientific inventiveness and creativity alongside artistic, cultural and music creativity. My father’s life’s work has been about making that ambition a reality. Over the past decades, Lord Rosse has been instrumental in bringing the past, present and future together with the wonderful Science Centre. This ensures the survival of the magnificent Castle and Gardens and enhances the Gardens with his own wonderful botanical additions collected from around the world, and along with my mother, supporting me in my work towards making Birr a hugely popular tourism destination with the giant Tree House and children’s adventure playground. He has also been instrumental in bringing a new era of science to the Castle with the I-LOFAR cutting-edge radio telescope. This will connect Ireland to the International LOFAR Telescope and, like the giant telescope, will inspire scientists and students for generations to come. And now these wonderful plans for the redwoods in Giants Grove – I wish I would live long enough to see this latest project mature, but it really is a project for the next generation to admire and appreciate as these giants grow to dizzying heights”.
Birr Castle Gardens are world renowned for their collection of trees from around the world, and here the returning redwoods will have a place to call home. The Gardens are already the home of another giant: the Great telescope. Known as the Leviathan, it was built in front of the Castle in the 1840s and was the world’s largest telescope for 70 years. The 3rd Earl who constructed this also planted our first redwoods, the largest of which is now over 30m tall. Both types of sequoia flourish happily at Birr and with their rapid growth rate are already, producing some very tall trees. As many children have experienced, Birr Castle Gardens added another giant to its attractions in 2013 with a giant tree house. Birr Castle is well known for its world-famous gardens. However, the redwoods will enhance this reputation as one of Ireland’s premier tourist attractions.
Crann – Trees for Ireland
Crann – Trees for Ireland was formed in 1986 with the aim of “Re-leafing Ireland”. Crann is Ireland’s leading voluntary tree organisation dedicated to the promotion and protection of our trees, hedgerows and woodlands. It is a membership-based, non-profit registered charity (CHY13698) uniting people with a love of trees. Crann’s mission is to enhance the environment of Ireland through planting, promoting, protecting and increasing awareness about trees and woodlands. Crann is delighted to be a partner in this historic project and welcomes the return to Ireland of these majestic redwood diaspora trees.
To date a dozen spaces in Giants Grove have been sold and planting will begin in Spring 2017. For further details, please visit www.giantsgrove.ie