Voting has started for European Tree of the Year 2013 and this year Ireland has an entry...
This is the 'King Oak'. This magnificent tree is between 400 and 800 years old and can be found on the grounds of Charleville Castle, Tullamore, Co. Offaly. It's beautiful bows which stretch to an impressive 50 metres have been climbed by 1000's over the years and have seen the beginning and end of many a teenage romance!
This ancient Oak is one of the oldest and tallest trees in Ireland. However, the competition is not looking for the oldest, tallest, or even the rarest tree but for 'the most loveable tree, with a story that brings the community together' and this one's certainly not short on stories!
Charleville Castle was home to the Bury family. They believed that if a major branch of the tree was to fall, one of their family members would die, so they supported the enormous limbs over the years with wooden props. In 1963, the tree was hit by a bolt of lightening. The Oak survived but Colonel Charles Howard-Bury, the last member of the Bury family died a few weeks later.
Please don't alarm, this story maybe nothing more than coincidence, afterall the Colonel was 82 years old when he died. He was an interesting character, a seasoned explorer, botanist and soldier. Bury was always interested in climbing as a youth. Another legend of this majestic tree claims that climbing this tree was a sign of great courage and indeed Colonel Bury had great courage making expeditions to Tian Shan Mountains in 1913 and Mount Everest in 1921 among others. He wrote many early travel diaries of his experiences.
The castle itself is an interesting place which is reputed to be haunted by a little girl called Harriet, daughter of the third Earl. It has been featured on Most Haunted, Family's Scariest Places on Earth and Ghost Hunters International.
If you are taken with this mysterious and beautiful giant Oak please click on the link below and give it your vote...
#5 KING OAK
#5 KING OAK