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.