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Beautiful, National, Natural Heritage under threat in Limerick.

category limerick | environment | news report author Wednesday December 13, 2006 05:01author by Mark O'Connor - Gluaiseacht, resident near development concernedauthor email markpeteroconnor at yahoo dot comauthor address Highfield, Limerick Report this post to the editors

2 mature Monterey Cypress trees, 1 Giant Redwood and 1 Turkey Oak set to be felled. Local residents take action to council and developers.

Concerned Citizens of Highfield in Limerick turn out to defend their natural heritage. Locally known as Chicken tree 1 + 2, are the old Monterey Cypress trees, the Giant Redwood and Turkey oak tree face possibly being felled.

Felling of younger trees occurred Friday and Monday on site, an act which is understood to be directly in breach of condition 6 of this developments Bord Planala planning permission (see condition 6 in full below).

Following today's pressure from these local residents and subsequent mediation with the developer and the council, a commitment have been given by the developer that all felling will cease until documents are sent to council. The residents expect the developer to honour this commitment.

More updates to follow.

Residents acting against developer tree felling
Residents acting against developer tree felling

"Prior to commencement of any development on foot of this grant of permission, a revised landscaping scheme incorporating suitable open space for residents of the proposed aparments, shall be submitted to the planning authority. This scheme shall specify trees proposed for retention, together with measures for their protection during the period in which the development is carried out. The site shall be landscaped in accordance with the agreed scheme, which shall also include a time scale for implementation. Open space provision on-site shall be in accordance with the provisions of the current development plan for the area, to the satisfaction of the planning authority."

No such landscaping scheme or timetable has been received by the City Council.

Anyone with ideas, please get in touch.

Related Link: http://www.woodlandleague.org/documents/sustainability/Towards%20Sustainable%20Local%20Communities.pdf

Felled trees
Felled trees

felled trees with 35m high 200 year old Monterey Cyprus in background
felled trees with 35m high 200 year old Monterey Cyprus in background

Work on site
Work on site

Confronting site workers
Confronting site workers

author by Pics by Niall Harnett - Gluaiseachtpublication date Wed Dec 13, 2006 05:18author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Where the 3 trees (oak, giant redwood, and monterey cypress) stand, there are plans to locate a block of 8 apartments.

Must we lose these trees?

Engaging with foreman
Engaging with foreman

Chicken tree 1 from different angle, beside aparthotel A (B+C to be constructed)
Chicken tree 1 from different angle, beside aparthotel A (B+C to be constructed)

Turkey Oak, Giant Redwood and (Chicken tree 2)Monterey Cypress
Turkey Oak, Giant Redwood and (Chicken tree 2)Monterey Cypress

Me beside Giant Redwood (Seqoiadendron giganteum) - Height - 23.5m GIRTH (tree circumference at a height of 1.3 from ground level) - 3.70m.  On the right is Monterey Cypress ‘Chicken Tree 2’ -(Cupressus macrocarpa) Mature - Height 29.5 m, Girth  6.20 m
Me beside Giant Redwood (Seqoiadendron giganteum) - Height - 23.5m GIRTH (tree circumference at a height of 1.3 from ground level) - 3.70m. On the right is Monterey Cypress ‘Chicken Tree 2’ -(Cupressus macrocarpa) Mature - Height 29.5 m, Girth 6.20 m

A hug for good luck!
A hug for good luck!

author by Pics by Niall Harnett - Gluaiseachtpublication date Wed Dec 13, 2006 05:49author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The Monterey Cypress trees, being 150 to 200 years old are precious natural resources. They are part of the community in the Highfield/Ennis Road/North Circular Road area.

Taking a look the exact same type of tree, the Monterey Cypress at UL, it is clear, with a little care, that these trees can be magnificent specimens. Keeping these trees will add value, both societal and economic, to the area. The North Circular road is well known for its trees. The trees on this site are the greatest of all the trees in North Limerick City. The developers, who hail from Limerick, must be aware that felling these trees would be against the wishes of the majority of people in the area.

It would be insanity to lose these great trees. The people of Limerick must insist of their council and of this Limerick based development company that THEY MUST BE PRESERVED.

Monterey Cypress at University of Limerick, doing very well after some years of care
Monterey Cypress at University of Limerick, doing very well after some years of care

me beside tree at UL
me beside tree at UL

This tree can live within a short distance from the 5 storey UL building, why not the Ardhu aparthotel?
This tree can live within a short distance from the 5 storey UL building, why not the Ardhu aparthotel?

Some light reinforcements to strengthen branches.  With a little care these trees can be magnificent assets/amenities to any residential area.
Some light reinforcements to strengthen branches. With a little care these trees can be magnificent assets/amenities to any residential area.

Helping branches against strong winds
Helping branches against strong winds

author by mammonpublication date Wed Dec 13, 2006 08:38author address author phone Report this post to the editors

They must die so that a fitting profit be made for the greater glory of Mammon, the supreme lord and God of modern Ireland.

author by Mark O'Connor - Gluaiseachtpublication date Wed Dec 13, 2006 15:12author email markpeteroconnor at yahoo dot ieauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

I just spoke with Dick Tobin city planner at Limerick City Council.

The position is this:

Last Monday, I inspected the An Bord Planala decision of January 2006. Therein, in condition 6 it stated that work could not begin before a Landscaping Scheme and Time Schedule were submitted (full condition written in full above).

I established that the council understood that no such documents had been received by them. Based on this, and pressure from local residents gathering Tuesday morning, Mr Jack O'Hurley inspected the site and, according to Mr Tobin, instructed that all work be stopped until compliance with planning conditions were met. From my converstation with Dck Tobin, I understand that condition 6 may not have been the only condition breached.

Me establishing that the council did not have the documents SHOULD NOT BE MY JOB. This is the responsibility of the Council. I am repeatedly told that the council is understaffed and that they are presiding over 4,000 planning cases with a staff of 4 senior planners.

I sympathise with them in their position. But my rights as a citizen are that I should be allowed to see documents relating to this case so that I can inform myself. The council being overworked and unable to deliver on this is something which I should not have to suffer and should pose questions on allowing this development to proceed as is.

In terms of the trees it comes down to this:
Most people I have spoken with at Limerick City Council have not heard of Agenda 21, including councillors and planning office officials. The Agenda 21 officer Sinead McDonnell is not available for comment at this time.
I am hereby (and intend to do so in writing today) informing council officials of their obligations under Agenda 21 to engage with all of the locality in relation to the felling of these trees. I am seeking such an engagement.

I have the Developer's landscaping scheme of April 2006 which states that the trees are unfit to be kept.
I am seeking the 2 reports carried out by the council on the condition of the trees. I am also seeking drainage reports (and flooding estimates) on the effect of removing their trees and wish to challenge how this can be accurately estimated as felling trees of this age, proximity and absorption happens so seldom, there are so few of them left.

In seeking these I am being told by Dick Tobin that I am again expected to come into the planning office and look for a file that may or may be in the many boxes of files.
I am told by workers on site that I am not allowed anywhere near the trees, even if I wanted to have a professional carry out an inspection.
I have a report from Sean McNamara on the 3 lower trees that state that they have up to 70 years of life expected.
And I have photographic evidence above showing how these trees can flourish if the proper care is taken with them. Examples of older larger trees can be found on the tree council's website www.treecouncil.ie. The trees concerned here are certainly comparable with specimens on the tree register.

The decision on these trees rests with the planner's opinion on the landscaping scheme, conducted and paid for by the developer. If they decide to go with the claim that these trees are nearing the end of their lifespan pose a threat to future safety of residents, the planner will sign off on it and the developer will be free to fell them.

Why are sanctions not now put on the developer for starting work, as the council understands and have acted following my investigations, before all planning conditions were met?

I call on the city's planning department to observe their obligations under Agenda 21 to allow me and my community full engagement on the decision on these trees.

The sad fact also is, that if the planners agree with this call and stop the felling of these trees, the city manager can, under PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT ACTS, 2000 TO 2002, veto any decision made by his council.

I appeal to all parties concerned to give the decision on these trees another look. They have been part of my community all our lives. So many others in these woods have been removed without engagement with us. These trees can be of huge benefit to this development. An aparthotel needing to market itself will surely benefit from proudly showing these mature specimens. Trees are medically proven to improve quality of life, on air, water, soil, temperature, shade, soakage, and also psychologically.

As the developers are rugby enthusiasts, as are the whole of Limerick, consider this. These trees watched over what is now highfield, but was once the St Munchin's rugby playing fields. They watched over me playing rugby with my neighbours. My dad probably trained there on his way to winning his Munster cup medal with Garryowen. My Grandfather and his 4 brothers probably trained there on their way to winning 47 munster cup medals for Garryowen.

If these trees are dangerous then so be it. I'll accept an independent opinion. But residents independent report contradicts the contractors view and says the can with care live on for more generations to enjoy.

These trees have watched over this community for so long. Weathered every storm for 200 years. I strongly believe they deserve better treatment than they are now getting.


Mark O'Connor.

This shot gives a better idea of the scope and girth of the beautiful Giant Redwood Sequoia tree
This shot gives a better idea of the scope and girth of the beautiful Giant Redwood Sequoia tree

A shot indicating digger tracks possibly damaging tree roots, damage from which they can of course recover
A shot indicating digger tracks possibly damaging tree roots, damage from which they can of course recover

Damage to trunk of the Giant Redwood
Damage to trunk of the Giant Redwood

Residents who sought clarification on the felling of trees, and got council to move to stop work temporarily.  Community Direct Action Working.
Residents who sought clarification on the felling of trees, and got council to move to stop work temporarily. Community Direct Action Working.

A view of the Monterey Cypress, Giant Redwood and Turkey Oak from the other side
A view of the Monterey Cypress, Giant Redwood and Turkey Oak from the other side

author by marypublication date Fri Dec 15, 2006 12:10author address author phone Report this post to the editors

sorry to see a community facing more struggles to preserve their environment,
but many thanks to those involved for taking the time to make a stand and preserve that which is priceless.

author by fairplaypublication date Fri Dec 15, 2006 18:23author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Nice work. good luck with it. short sighted stupidity and corruption to get rid of those trees.

author by Tony.publication date Sat Dec 16, 2006 23:08author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Great to see community and local residents standing up for their environmental heritage like this.

Well done for taking responsibilty for your trees.

Happy Christmas to you all and I hope you get to enjoy those trees into the new year and well beyond.

author by number 12 - legalise freedom campaignpublication date Sun Dec 17, 2006 20:53author address author phone Report this post to the editors

SAND. One of nature's wonders.

Many years ago I had taken over as Transport Manager on a Project and had to deal with a situation that necessitated the purchase and installation of an engine to a truck.

This was caused by a very disgruntled Driver a year or so previously.

He 'got his own back' by installing some -not much - Sand , in the oil filler cap.
The result was the obvious and it took a long time for the offending piece of machinery to do it's job.

In fact , it never did it's job.

The Driver was never identified and we all lived happy ever after.

author by Mark O'Connor - Gluaiseachtpublication date Mon Dec 18, 2006 15:29author email markpeteroconnor at yahoo dot comauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

Verbal assurances that all documents relating to compliance with Bord Pleanala conditions have not been honoured. The developers said to the Council that all necessary documents would be in by the end of last week, including the important revised LANDSCAPING SCHEME.

At the end of the day, the saving of these trees must come from the developers. Underneath is a 9 page letter. I have forwarded this to Willy O'Dea, who has said he will phone the developers directly today.

It goes a little something like this...

"Letter to the Developers of the Limerick Ryan Hotel Site, and politicians and planners who are presiding over this case.

Gentlemen: I ask that you consider all of the following facts before coming to a final decision on the trees on your development site. I respectfully wish to engage with you now on behalf of my neighbours and friends here in Highfield and all the residents in wider north circular area.

I believe in honest communication and speaking to the goodness in others. Everyone concerned has a job to do. I don’t want to make life hard for anyone.

I have expertise on Local Agenda 21, a strategy which the planning process should be adopting for planning cases and incorporating its 4 pillar concerns, namely:

Economic – in this case the developer and future owners/users of this development

Community – my community, neighbours, friends having a say on the fate of these tree amenities

Institutions – Local government, Limerick City Council and its overworked planning office

Environment – The trees and general character of the North circular, which this development will directly effect.

I (and others) have this year received Agenda 21 funding from 5 county councils to do ‘Green Guides’ for Ennis, Waterford, Portlaoise, Naas and Drogheda. In 2003 Limerick City Council awarded us such Agenda 21 funding to do the Limerick Green Guide. These local authorities confirm my knowledge of sustainable development issues. I wish to impart this knowledge into this debate.

Agenda 21 and the Aarhus Convention entitles residents of any area on a say concerning natural amenities in their area. I believe it is not too late to honour Agenda 21 commitments in this case. I am seeking such an engagement here.

Although I am an honours mechanical engineer graduate of UL and have expertise on Agenda 21, my observations made here are made in the interest of fairness, among Limerick men, deciding on part of its future. Legally, I am told that in effect the developer can fell which ever trees they wish. However, I believe a court of law is not necessary to debate this. I wish to fully inform them of all considerations and consequences of whichever decision they finally choose.

All I seek is clarity on some areas and a mutually beneficial consensus on others. On my inspection of this case history, I believe the following points have not been fairly considered. Please take the time to examine my suggestions.

Peace and goodwill,
Happy Christmas,
Mark O’Connor.

Clarification – Firstly, I wish to seek clarification regarding the canopy of trees between highfield and the Aparthotel B development. We have received verbal assurances from the workers that they will not be harmed. It is as the Americans would say a ‘no brainer’. The obvious benefits of privacy and better security given by this natural canopy of trees for both Highfield residents and our new neighbours in the apartments is in both parties’ interests.

We would appreciate written confirmation, in the form of a letter to the council, stating this and precautionary protection you will exercise in not harming the roots of these trees. Workers onsite say there is a gap of 6 to 8 feet between the current track and the trees. Assurances that the trees roots will not be driven on and compacted would be best for all concerned.

The following are considerations to be made in what I refer to as ‘the big 4’, namely Chicken Tree 1 (the larger Monterrey Cypress, which overlooks Highfield, tree #422 on landscape drawings), Chicken Tree 2 (the smaller Monterey Cypress, overlooking the Elms estate, #416), the Giant Sequoia Redwood (immediately beside and co-dependent on Chicken tree 2, tree #417) and the turkey oak (tree # 415).

Tree Council of Ireland – I believe the quality of the specimens on this site has been underestimated. The initial Environmental Impact Assessment stated “there are no features of significant interest in the flora and fauna of the site, which contains species that would generally be expected.”

This view would certainly not be shared by residents of the area. But more importantly it is not the view of the Tree Council of Ireland. I have spoken with Mr Aubrey Fennell, who said that the Chicken tree would be among the top specimens of Monterey Cypress in the country. He wishes to see this and other trees in January with a view to having them listed on the Irish Tree Register. Although this does not afford them automatic protection status, I think it does show the stature of these trees as specimens of national importance. The point that these trees are of ‘significant interest’ is worth making.

Of the Monterey Cypress and Giant Sequoia, here are some facts not previously considered.
The Monterey Cypress is from the Monterey Peninsula in California, USA. After the last ice age, this species of tree became stranded out on this Monterey peninsula. It could not make the land journey to the rest of the American continent. Other coniferous species moved from California all around the USA and on up into Alaska and British Columbia.

Meanwhile the Monterey Cypress evolved for thousands of years out on this peninsula. There it evolved to be resistant to the strong winds that occur there. The Monterey Cypress only came to Ireland, it is understood, in 1852. In the Irish Climate it has thrived. Here it is spoiled with adequate rainfall, rich soil (builders have identified that the soil is of a high quality in the Ardhu Highfield area) and adequate wind. With the strong winds we sometimes get here, this tree feels at home in Ireland.

It is my understanding from speaking with Mr Fennell, that there are no cases of these trees falling over in the wind in Ireland. Arguments regarding their risk in strong winds must be carefully assessed and take into consideration that these trees have weathered all storms in the last 150 years.

The TreeForce analysis states “Concern with regard to the future relates to a general predisposition of this species to sustain storm damage and mechanical failure especially during high wind conditions. Unfortunately pruning and pruning related management does not serve to alleviate this thread and as such and if retained in close proximity to thoroughfares, parking areas or buildings, this specimen or indeed a specimen of this species will always constitute a threat.”

This is directly contradicted by the analysis by Sean McNamara which states “If not damaged, estimated useful life another 70 years.” The species’ evolution to be strong in the wind would also argue otherwise.

In the coming days, Brother Anthony will inspect these trees. If you speak to him and learn from the knowledge he applies in keeping the spectacular woods in Glenstal, you will appreciate how resilient and intelligent these trees are. They can adapt and evolve to changes in their surroundings. And they are living specimens. They can, if left to themselves, look after themselves.

Furthermore; the Tree Council’s opinion of the Giant Sequoia Redwood is that it is still quite a young specimen.
In relation to this specimen I wish to point out the following: On the TreeForce paper, the height of this tree is given as 23.5 metres, considerably lower than the Chicken tree 2 whose height is given as 29.5 metres.

Inspecting these 2 specimens now, it is clear to the naked eye that the Sequoia is now TALLER THAN THE CHICKEN TREE 2, and is now more around the 30meter mark. Speaking with Mr Fennell, he says this is quite a small specimen. I think the developers should consider what a magnificent tree this specimen is on its way to becoming. These trees have been known to grow for 1,000 years.

The Chicken tree 2 and the Redwood are growing co-dependent on one another. This is such a rare example of these 2 species of tree evolving together, sharing light, and bearing the wind load for one another. It must surely be an instance of interest to botanists, foresters and school children alike.

Some trees can take the light of other trees to such an extent that it can kill smaller trees. But this will not occur for these specimens, they are far enough apart. I’ve also learned that the trident structure at the top of this Sequoia tree in no way makes it more susceptible to storm damage. Again, I expect Brother Anthony and other experts could better inform us on what the future holds for these trees, if allowed to live on.

If more time and resources could be put into researching these trees, I believe the developers could appreciate the value of these trees as assets to this development.

As for the Oak, again it is likely that it has recovered sufficiently from its minimal observed degrading since the report in September 2004. Only minimal foliage loss was observed in this tree’s case in that report. Trees can endure far greater foliage loss and still make a full recovery. I can think of the example at salmon weir in Annacotty, the tree on the green there lost all its leaves for some years, but went onto make a full recovery and now stands there as an important amenity for the residents there.

ECONOMIC BENEFITS: I believe these trees are a superb marketing tool.
Many of the hotel users will be from the USA. With appropriate landscaping, perhaps with scattering of bark mulch (as seen in UL), you could invite guests to visit the beautiful ‘Sequoia garden’ and visit their ‘floral friends from the USA’. The Sequoia and Monterey Cypress are American Trees. Europeans and Asians will also appreciate these trees. Trees are a huge feature of all of Europe’s greatest cities, Paris, London, Berlin all have fine tree specimens kept where possible. If the decision is made to keep these trees, the development can proudly show these specimens off. People staying at the hotel can look out their window and see them, listen to the wind blowing through them.

Economic progress in Ireland sees cities having choices they never before thought possible. The development of these cities should, for everybody’s interests be sustainable.

And as Limerick takes its place in the great cities of Europe, I believe so it deserves to develop sustainably and to retain and exhibit its beautiful trees.

Environmental degradation is rightly being challenged worldwide. Ireland is supposed to be doing its bit under Kyoto and the Maastricht and Nice treaties. Latest figures on carbon emissions show that Ireland’s emissions are increasing rather than decreasing which is disappointing. Climate change is a reality. The arctic ice will be melted within the next 40 years. Within our children’s lifetimes, massive changes will occur in our climate and our society.

Peak oil is another factor. Industrialised nations are using oil at an ever increasing rate and their cities and societies have evolved around car use. The demand for oil is directly proportional to economic progress. With China, India (with 1 billion people each) and other developing nations coming on stream, and less and less new oil being discovered, demand will exceed supply. The nature of oil wells is that the lighter sweet oil is at the top. The already extracted oil was the easier to extract oil. What’s left will be harder and more costly to extract. With less oil available the resultant rise in oil price, subsequent fall off in economic progress, and knock on effect in maintaining basic processes like transporting goods and people, heating, energy etc will be a jarring change for most societies. I recommend checking out a film called ‘The End of Suburbia’ to best inform you on the issue of Peak oil, available from www.theendofsuburbia.com. Also see www.peakoil.ie or www.peakoil.com. Experts argue that we’re already there.

I believe these trees will be an important symbol of hope for the uncertain times ahead.

Glenstal Abbey –Brother Anthony Keane of Glenstal presides over the grounds of the woods at Glenstal Abbey. Many of the trees under his care are on the Irish Tree Register, including Ireland’s tallest tree, the 51m high Sitka Spruce. Also onsite of Glenstal is the majestic native Irish Oak forest. These trees are some of the precious few remaining areas of native Oak forest, which once covered all of Ireland.

I suggest over the Christmas to visit the beautiful grounds, and hear the monks singing at the mass. Again, I believe if you consider the scope for amenity and beauty within trees for an area, I believe a new appreciation can be gained of the trees onsite. I cannot overstate the benefit they can have for the finished development.

THESE TREES ARE AN ASSET – These trees are the best asset that this development has. If you think of the University of Limerick, it is such a successful campus because of the retention of its trees. On all its literature it markets itself on the beauty of the campus. The same can be the case for this development.

To best demonstrate, the opinion is being sought of the arbo-culturalist hired by them to take care of their Monterey Cypress tree standing in the UL quadrangle behind the White House. From enquiries made so far, we have learned that a mere once off payment of €3,000 was all it took to do the surgery on the quadrangle tree, and the affixing of harnesses to strengthen it in the wind. See pictures of this at www.indymedia.ie/article/80186.

Retention of these trees is a viable option, which with a minimal investment will return profits in kind, and will increase the property’s value in time. Thinking of the Foxrock area in Dublin, with some of the most expensive real estate in Europe, there are numerous specimens of old beautiful trees. Would the value of this property rise if these trees were felled? I think not. The trees are what add the touch of class to the area. It is what makes the North Circular Road/Ennis Road area special.

Whatever the fate of these trees, the decision and the implementation of this must come from the developers.

People say that the planning process is over and to further challenge things I can go through the legal channels, but I have neither the interest nor the resources to go to the high court.

Instead I ask the developers to consider the following arguments over the Christmas season and make a decision on the points I raise here.

The past week has demonstrated to me that the planning office in Limerick City Council is overworked. This is a very serious matter, one which I hope the Minister, TDs and Councillors will address urgently. 4,000 planning cases and only 4 senior planners. Limerick needs more resources.

Trees for Health conference – A conference in the UK recently held by the medics discussed the various health benefits of Trees. Among their findings were lower cases of road rage in roads with trees. Even in the last weekend, on the drive up to Dublin, you know when you pass through the Curragh you feel more relaxed. The trees have a calming effect on drivers. Germany’s Autobahn often passes through wooded areas.

Trees are a natural beauty and are pleasing to look at. The Chicken tree is the largest specimen in all of the North Circular Road. It is majestic to look at. Trees are medically and scientifically proven to be good for human health, particularly psychologically. They are also great for shade, shelter, and improved quality of air, soil, water, and life.

Some final thoughts: It may be best to consider the big 4 in 2 groups, with the Chicken tree 1 on its own, and the other 3 below seperately.

The Chicken Tree 1 – The Taller Monterey Cypress tree – Much of the past week has been about seeking clarity on the work being carried out. The fate of the Chicken Tree is still very much an unknown. Workers onsite have said “we wont be going near that tree, are you joking me?” Also drawings in the planning office of the proposed finished drawings show a tree of greater height than the hotel. Is it the developer’s intention to keep this tree?

On the Brady Shipman Martin Tree Survey, the Chicken Tree is designated as “to be felled due to poor condition.” This Tree Survey was carried out in July 2004. The Chicken tree did look worse some years back.

But now over 2 and ½ years later, it is fairing much better. 70% of the tree has green leaves. This would not be possible if any rotting in the tree was occurring. Water is reaching the lower leaves and all the way up to the highest branches. I submit that this tree has recovered its health.

In the interest of clarity and making the best most informed decision, I request that this tree be reappraised by an independent arbo-culturalist in the new year.

I did try to engage with the landscaping company on their assessment of this tree. Mr John Nelson said “he refused to be drawn into a debate” and that I should “go through the legal challenges.” Again, I have neither the time nor money to go down that road.

In terms of the permission given in the Bord Pleanala decision, the Chicken tree is not in the way of any of the development. The tree is off the road. Its depiction on drawings appears to show it in the way of the road, but this is of course the tree canopy in the plan view drawings, not the tree’s trunk. The tree is not in the way of any of the proposed building work.

I plead with the developers that it be left alone during the construction of Apart hotel B. Take as much care to not interfere with its roots. I think only a small part of its roots will suffer compaction by construction vehicles rolling over them. Upon finishing the construction of Aparthotel B, another reappraisal of the tree could be done, and in the likely scenario that it will have endured the development, the tree can be retained. Comparing it to the UL quadrangle tree, it seems that some work clearing away some inner smaller branches would make the tree visually more appealing, and healthier.

The lower 3 trees – On this part of the development, I suggest a ‘wait and see’ approach. Work will continue on Aparthotel B, and with assurances that trees will be safeguarded and protected from damage, Highfield residents will be content for this work to continue. While that building is finished, perhaps in re-evaluating the value of the lower 3 trees, an alternative plan can be arrived at. With more time, I’m certain more reasons, both economic and social, can be found for keeping these trees. It begs the question, are they really worth felling so a block of 8 apartments can be put in their place? Is there any other options on the table?


I am speaking on behalf of my community. That tree has looked down on Highfield all our lives. From my house, number 25, I can see 70% of the entire tree from our window. It is part of the folklore of the area. I understand that the Chicken tree got its name from the local rite of passage: If you didn’t climb to the top, you were a chicken. Locals Kids played under it, built huts, shared first romances.

In delivering leaflets to make people of the tree felling last week, and going around from house to house (not unlike our minister might do), I could see one or all of the ‘big 4’ trees from most houses doors in the Highfield, Ennis Road, Roses Avenue, The Elms and Eden Terrace.

I think serious consideration should be given to how people will feel about this development and of the politicians and planners who presided over it, if the trees are felled.

I have sought engagement with the press on this matter as I believe it should be debated in the media. The lack of resources for the planning office is a matter of grave concern. I believe in Limerick City’s ability to progress into the future going forward. I think issues like this are of huge importance to the brand of Limerick City. Many of those I have encountered in bringing this issue to the attention of the people of Limerick have without exception agreed that these trees should be kept if possible.

Included in this are:
- Many from the rugby community – A poster hangs in Gerry Flannery’s pub widening the debate.
- Many from the music community, including members of The Cranberries (30 million albums sold worldwide).
- Everyone I met at the market last Saturday as I distributed leaflets and spoke with people.
- Vincent and Emma Browne of the Village Magazine

Support has come from further afield – the Cultivate centre in Dublin which has its premises in Temple Bar and promotes sustainability has shown interest in this case to name but one.

There will be coverage in the local media including next weekend’s Christmas Leader. I think it is the case that most people were unaware of the decision for the possible felling of these trees. Press coverage is important to inform people of this, and to debate reasons for and against such work.

Keeping the trees: A nice way of looking at it: Think of the future, from the new stand in Thomond Park, from the corporate box with whoever you may be having in town, to watch Munster win the Heineken Cup 3 in a row, how, visible from Thomond park, the giant sequoia blowing in the wind standing proudly from the grounds of the Clarion Suites Aparthotel.

But most importantly to me I think of Tom Bracken sitting in his kitchen of his house, titled ‘Tall Trees’ of 13 Highfield. I called into him and Margaret the other day. Tom was practicing playing Christmas Carols on his flute. He is in his own words ‘despairing’ at the loss of the recently felled trees and the possibility of losing more. I believe if the developers could see what effect the tree felling has had on Tom and the other neighbours in Highfield, they would do everything in their power, as I am doing, to find another way forward. My friends, Paddy and Peggy Quane, the O’Briens, Gillian and Gerry Hayes, Ted and Betsy Motherway, the O’Deas, The Gleesons, Dennis and Anna Doyle, Tom and Margaret Bracken, the Dodsons, Tony and Maura O’Sullivan, the Hogans, Paul and Margaret O’Connor, Tom and Dee Burke, Rose and Vincent Collins, Dermot and Martha Walsh, Phil Ryan, Kay Reynolds, and Jim, Joe, Justin, Gina, John, Geraldine, Susan and my father Joe O’Connor, we all want these trees to be kept. Keeping these trees will not be too much effort, will be the correct decision, a happy ending to a long running development case.

I’m sure there’s other points I could have included here. I pray that my efforts will help the developers find a better, more sustainable way forward.


Mark O’Connor."

author by Mark O'Connor - Gluaiseachtpublication date Thu Apr 19, 2007 02:42author email markoconnorstudios at yahoo dot ieauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

For anyone checking out this story, here's the latest news:

Bord Pleanala reversed Limerick City Council's refusal of planning permission, and gave permission with some conditions. 1 condition was a revised landscaping scheme. This was submitted late, after I uncovered that it hadn't been submitted.

Limerick City Council Parks Superintendant Des Murphy instructed the developer in a meeting in January 07 that they were not to fell any of the trees detailed in this story (the big 4).

In February the developer sent a letter to the council stating that they intended to fell the lower 3 trees in the near future and that they would seek the advice of experts to see if Chicken tree #1 could be retained in the same way as UL's quadrangle monterey cypress (probably planted around the same time).

Following this the council reiterated that the developer was not to fell these trees.

I submitted in writing an appeal to the developer to seek the advice of Casey's Tree surgeons of Mallow, the people who successfully retained the UL tree, who have proven they can do the job, and following an inspection of the Chicken Tree #1, say it can be retained.

For the last 6 weeks, no work has been carried out on the site. The council has stopped work on the site due to the breaking of planning permission at a different location on the site, and also concerns about the trees and car parking spaces.

The current position is that in any new submission for planning permission that the big 4 detailed in this story are to be retained. The matter is still outstanding. That these trees were ever considered for felling says something about the current planning process. They are nationally important natural heritage.

I have gone through the proper channels throughout this campaign. I have visited the Limerick City Council planning office more times than I care to remember. I pray that sense will be seen and that these trees, an asset to any living space, will be retained.

And maybe some day we can have an outdoor concert underneath them and celebrate them.

le gra,

Firm who worked on UL tree, say this tree is in good health and can be retained
Firm who worked on UL tree, say this tree is in good health and can be retained

Me and Brother Anthony of Glenstal, supporting the retention of these trees
Me and Brother Anthony of Glenstal, supporting the retention of these trees

author by Joe Walshepublication date Tue Oct 16, 2007 13:42author email Homedesign at Oceanfree dot netauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

Eoin O'Brien (Formerly UL) sent me kink to this thread. He knows I take an interest in trees and plant them when and where I can (I'm a builder/Architect.
Anyway, well done to all those involved in saving the trees here.
Joe Walshe

author by Mark O'Connor - Gluaiseachtpublication date Wed Jan 30, 2008 17:35author address author phone Report this post to the editors

This email to John Gormley sort of says it all. I'll be there in the morning with the Limerick Leader + residents to try something if anyone's interested. I can't believe it's come to this.

Minister Gormley,

the planning process has failed me and my campaigners.

I was given a verbal assurance that the parks department of Limerick City Council had verbally instructed the developers that the trees I've been campaigning on were to be retained.

But workmen have moved in and are due to fell them tomorrow.

Why the council have seen fit to allow the rare 150year old Giant Redwood Sequoia and Monterey Cypress is unforgiveable. Why it is gone against the parks department's wishes to have them retained is unexplained.

Nobody at the planning office were able to give me an answer today. Indeed the only planning officer available simply wouldn't come to the desk to talk to me.

The insanity of removing these trees is just to allow 2 lanes of traffic access for a small number of cars to park on a non-through road.

A compromise would be to fell the (already ill) turkey oak, and retain the others and have a traffic light 1 lane system for cars parking, something which is common place on the continent.

I have been caught unawares. This go ahead was given last October, but none of the objectors/stakeholders were informed.

How are we supposed to engage in a planning process that only deals with one side? And I was given a verbal assurance that the council's position was for the trees to be retained.

They are due to be felled in the morning. I know you are at leinster house. If you can assist at all, arrange a 'stay of execution' for these unique city trees from senseless destruction, please contact me;


author by ELFpublication date Thu Jan 31, 2008 13:16author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Dont let these beautiful trees be destroyed by corporate greed and treacherous Green politicans.EarthLiberation Front is calling on any activists in the Limerick to spike these trees.This involves driving large nails and bits of metal into the trunks.It doesnt harm the tree,but will harm any bastard with a chainsaw who tries to cut down the tree.Once loggers know that trees have been spiked they will not attempt a cut with a chainsaw or be able to sell the wood onto any sawmill.As any imperfection or foreign matter in the wood can spell disaster to a bandsaw.
Save your heritage.Dont let these corporate scum rape our planet anymore.


author by o dearpublication date Thu Jan 31, 2008 13:39author address author phone Report this post to the editors

sticking foreign matter into the barks is not a good idea- nude protest is good too,
afterall the cops have to be very careful of what they touch when they ascend to arrest you.

don't spike the trees- its counterproductive.

make a little tent and a few big boards and plenty of loud music, might rattle them a bit.


author by Mark O'Connor - Gluaiseachtpublication date Thu Jan 31, 2008 21:40author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The 2nd worst day of my life.

Talked a little on 95fm news.
Will be in the Limerick leader this weekend.


Call me a hippy? Go fuck yourself.

Todays actions were a crime against the people and floral heritage of Limerick.

Mark O'Connor.

work begins this morning.  Monterey Cypress being destroyed
work begins this morning. Monterey Cypress being destroyed

By day's end, only Sequoia left standing, notice cypress + oak stumps left and right
By day's end, only Sequoia left standing, notice cypress + oak stumps left and right

Nature 9-11 in Limerick city.  150 years old.  Unforgiveable.
Nature 9-11 in Limerick city. 150 years old. Unforgiveable.


Some hope... Great redwood at Glenstal lives on.  Visit + hug when sad...
Some hope... Great redwood at Glenstal lives on. Visit + hug when sad...

author by john Bowker - Tribal Spirit natural drum and voice facilitatorpublication date Tue Apr 07, 2009 01:44author email john.tribalspirit at gmail dot comauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

As I have driven to work around Clare and Limerick in recent months many more ancient trees have been brought down. Illegal felling is a sad and infuriating sight. In recent weeks many mature cypress on the edge of Bridgetown have been hacked down. More have been toppled along the Broadford Limerick road.
And there are many more. All of these fellings are highly likely to be illegal : Felling licences would be legally required yet are rarely applied for or needed as there are unlikely to be repercussions.
On all fronts we need our mature trees; trees produce our oxygen, and oxygen content in the air is way down and falling. One thing that all us mammals have to have is good oxygen rich air. Trees of course protect our soils from erosion from wind and rain, and provide an rich habitat for much wildlife. And I think we need trees for the beauty and the deep sense of peace and calm they generate. Human nature.
I hope I will be able to save some trees from untimely destruction in the future. I plant a good few trees each year as many do, taking the environment into our own safe hands. Growing organic mixed broadleaf, which will take many years to mature, will eventually create beautiful and healthy environments.
In Ireland we have a vast mono culture of Sitka spruce trees, so closely planted they provide almost no wildlife habitat, and they are felled quickly for cash crops leaving vast scars, before replanting and a heavy dose of chemical fertiliser washes into the lakes to kill the fish and produce more algal bloom.
The alternative folk re planting the green woods of Oak and Ash are often frowned upon and scorned as hippies yet the ancient Irish tradition was of a great respect for the healing magic of the trees.
I am again reminded of Tolkien and the Ents, the tree guardians in Lord of the rings. I think it is high time we invoked our inner Ent.

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