by Paul Cullen, Branch Out
In spring last year, a small group of people decided to plant a forest in Clonakilty. As most are aware, Cloich na Coillte means stone and woods. The town has so much going for it, beautiful countryside, breathtaking beaches, amazing people but no woods.
It all started from the seed of an idea sown during a Cultural Brunch held in O’Donovan’s Hotel by a group appropriately named Branch Out. Branch Out is a group of people from all over the world living in the area, who meet up monthly to share food and connect. At the aforementioned brunch it was realised that a number of people shared a dream of having a native woodland in Clonakilty.
In a very short space of time this dream became reality. Miraculously Cork County Council offered the stunning land surrounding Gullane Lake to be used for the woodland and 1,500 trees were donated from local nurseries. On a sunny day in April over one hundred tree planters turned up to lend a hand; people from all walks of life and all ages.
It was heartwarming to see so many children being part of the day. It is these children that will benefit most, and their children. Older generations were keen to be part of the action too. One very elderly gentleman made the steep trek to the planting area, planted just one tree and walked quietly back down. Everyone was delighted to be involved.
On March 8 this year, as part of the National Tree Week, it is all happening again. The plan is to plant 2,000 trees this time with many local businesses offering to help out. SWS Forestry Services has confirmed delivery of 1,000 native trees with the rest donated from local nurseries – for which the organisers are extremely grateful. Some hardware shops are supplying tools and Super Valu and Londis will have some tasty food, fresh from their bakeries, lined up for the volunteers.
It goes without saying that the woodland will be a great addition to the town. As the trees grow, new wildlife will make their home there. In 20 years the entire area will be covered with trees. Over time, walkways, a picnic area and possibly a car park will be developed. Cllr. Christopher O’Sullivan has proposed a walkway from Clonakilty to link in with the woodland and the Technology Park.
It all started with a dream, but with ambition and belief the woodland is becoming a reality. In one hundred years or so from now, early on a bright spring morning, we will all be long gone but left will be the chorus of wild birds and a beautiful oak woodland in Cloich na Coillte.
So if you are free on March 8, grab your shovel and spade and come down to lend a hand. The meeting place is Clonakilty Technology Park where volunteers will chaperone groups to the planting area every hour from 9am to 5pm. Everyone is welcome.
Check out www.clonakiltyforest.com for more details.