When the first Irish settlers in what we now know as Derry chose to bestow the name of ‘Doire’ on their new home, it was hugely significant for the county to be named in honour of their most sacred tree; revered and respected for the strength, durability and versatility of its wood.
This month, Ireland’s Oak Grove lost the tallest and greatest of all its trees.
When Ireland’s enemies brought inequality, discrimination and brutality to the Bogside, they were not to know that they had planted a seed which, taking strength and nourishment from their hatred and mistreatment of the native people, would become a mighty oak.
As it grew in stature and reputation, the mighty oak’s branches reached out to even the unlikeliest corners and pockets of Ireland and, through its glorious foliage, offered shelter to all those that sought it.
Such was the size of the oak’s reach that all of Ireland laid claim to it but its roots lay in the Bogside and it was the people there and their spirit and desire for freedom that gave sustenance to those roots.
For decades, the oak faced an onslaught from the strongest and bitterest of winds but, although swaying when necessary, it didn’t bend and it never, ever bowed.
Now, nature has done what countless enemies of Ireland failed to achieve and her mighty oak is gone and her people weep.
But the oak was not to leave Ireland unprotected. Through its immense reach, acorns have been planted throughout Ireland and around the globe. Acorns that will be become their own strong oak trees and Ireland will find shelter and peace under their branches. This is the legacy of Ireland’s Mighty Oak.
Maireann an chraobh ar an bhfál ach ní mhaireann an lámh do chuir.
what a beautiful tribute, John and so deserved………..
You’ve blown me away! You have made my day complete – go raibh maith agat!!!
This is Joe McVeigh’s post, not mine…
This tribute brings to mind the poem by Maya Angelou ‘When Great Trees Fall’
When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.
When great trees fall
small things recoil into silence,
eroded beyond fear.
When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
gnaws on kind words
Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
dependent upon their
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
of dark, cold
And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.
Maybe I’m missing something but the headline says “Mc Guinness tribute by John Gibson”.
Before one or more of my fellow readers pours scorn on this great tribute. I would just ask them to pause for a moment. Then answer these questions for me. Was it fair to discriminate and insult the Catholic population of the north? Was the partition of Ireland a just act? Did Paisleyites carry out the bombing of the Silent Valley reservoir? Why did the RUC and it’s political masters beat the civil rights marchers off their own streets? Was it just to deny people civil rights in the first place? When General Mike Jackson dies you can write a gushing eulogy if you want but to most people he will be a paid terrorist who prosecuted a war against Irish nationalists.