Landscape that inspired Narnia is home to Northern Ireland’s Tree of the Year

Old Homer, a holm oak in Rostrevors Kilbroney Park, has been crowned Northern Irelands Tree of the Year in a search for the nations best-loved tree.  Organised by the Woodland Trust, the competition saw six trees compete for public votes.  The champion, nominated by LIGHT 2000, will go on to represent Northern Ireland in the European Tree of the Year competition, which takes place next February
Old Homer, a holm oak in Rostrevors Kilbroney Park, has been crowned Northern Irelands Tree of the Year in a search for the nations best-loved tree. Organised by the Woodland Trust, the competition saw six trees compete for public votes. The champion, nominated by LIGHT 2000, will go on to represent Northern Ireland in the European Tree of the Year competition, which takes place next February
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A holm oak at Kilbroney Park in Rostrevor has been crowned Northern Ireland’s Tree of the Year in a search for the nation’s best-loved tree.

Organised by the Woodland Trust, the competition saw six splendid specimens across the country compete for public favour, with the champion securing 1,192 votes.

Pictured are Patrick Cregg of the Woodland Trust (left) and Alistair Livingstone, Chairman of LIGHT 2000, who nominated the winning tree

Pictured are Patrick Cregg of the Woodland Trust (left) and Alistair Livingstone, Chairman of LIGHT 2000, who nominated the winning tree

Northern Ireland’s winner – along with the winning tree in England, Scotland and Wales – was recently revealed in a Channel 4 documentary Tree of the Year with Ardal O’Hanlon.

Affectionately known as ‘Old Homer’, this mighty evergreen oak was planted some 200 years ago by the Ross family on, at that time, their private estate. The Ross’ legacy, a mix of native and exotic specimens from all over the world, lives on in Kilbroney Park – now Council-owned and open to the public.

Almost two centuries on, this tree will represent Northern Ireland in the European Tree of the Year contest, which – run by the Environmental Partnership Association – will take place in February next year.

The winning tree was nominated by Alistair Livingstone on behalf of the LIGHT 2000 community group.

Alistair Livingstone of LIGHT 2000 (front left) with Patrick Cregg of the Woodland Trust.  The team (back left to right) Paul Clerkin, William Graham, and Csilla Toldy are joined by Councillor Gillian Fitzpatrick, Chair of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council

Alistair Livingstone of LIGHT 2000 (front left) with Patrick Cregg of the Woodland Trust. The team (back left to right) Paul Clerkin, William Graham, and Csilla Toldy are joined by Councillor Gillian Fitzpatrick, Chair of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council

Alistair said: “We’re absolutely delighted with the result. This oak has been loved by countless generations of local people, and it’s the tree that crowds continue to gather under during the Fiddler’s Green Festival – an international celebration of music and culture.

“It’s a breathtaking spot, attracting its fair share of famous residents and visitors over the years4, including great writers. It certainly inspired the Belfast-born CS Lewis, who said the view from Kilbroney Park (then known as the Meadow) overlooking Carlingford Lough was his idea of Narnia.”

As tribute, the park has its own Narnia trail, tucked away in the arboretum.

Patrick Cregg, director of the Woodland Trust, added: “We’re truly grateful to those who nominated trees, and indeed to each and every person who took the time to vote. Thanks to the public vote, we’re now delighted to announce and congratulate our winner.

“I recently visited Kilbroney Park and was overwhelmed by this much-loved oak, which guards the enchanting Fairy Glen entrance. I was equally taken with the beauty of the park as a whole, and by the enthusiasm of the LIGHT 2000 group. They’ve campaigned tirelessly and, between them, have an absolute wealth of knowledge, including when each tree in the park was planted and by whom.”

The Woodland Trust’s aim is to highlight and celebrate our country’s remarkable trees, and to ultimately ensure they are given the recognition and protection they deserve.

The charity’s V.I.Trees campaign seeks to create a register of Trees of National Special Interest throughout the UK and over 9,000 people have so far supported the call for action. For more information visit www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/campaigning