Blarney Castle is celebrating an unusual accolade this week, after a tree on its grounds was crowned Irish Tree of the Year
The Witch’s Yew situated in the Rock Close on the grounds of Blarney Castle Estate, has been estimated by experts to be in excess of 600 years old. A folly, The Witch’s Kitchen, was built by the Jeffreyes family under the already existing yew tree in the 1750s as part of the famous Rock Close gardens.
Legend has it, the area is the home of the Blarney Witch, who first told mortals of the Blarney Stone’s magic powers i.e. the gift of eloquence. The Witch, imprisoned by day in the Witch Stone, is released after nightfall, only to be banished to the witch stone again at dawn.
Some early morning visitors have claimed to have seen dying embers of a fire in her kitchen.
"We are all absolutely delighted that the Witch’s Yew has won,” Head Gardener Adam Whitbourn said. “It’s an amazing veteran tree with a fantastic story and that’s what the competition is all about.
“Personally, I’m happy to see specimen trees like this getting some recognition, especially in the current climate where such devastation is happening to woodlands around the world. Trees such as this represent both our past and our future, and it is our duty to look after them.”
The Witch’s Yew Tree will now go forward as Irelands representative in the European Tree of The Year vote which will take place throughout the whole month of February.
With an impressive selection of trees from all over Europe, the Tree Council of Ireland is encouraging the public to support the Irish entry by voting at treeoftheyear.org/IE.
“It is such a beautiful specimen of tree with a truly fascinating backstory,” Cork city Lord Mayor John Sheehan said. “I wish this very worthy entrant every success in its bid to win European Tree of The Year and encourage all of Cork’s citizens to vote.”