McGuinness tribute by John Gibson

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.



6 Responses to McGuinness tribute by John Gibson

  1. Bridget Cairns March 30, 2017 at 9:04 am #

    what a beautiful tribute, John and so deserved………..

  2. James Hunter March 30, 2017 at 9:26 am #


  3. Mick Early March 30, 2017 at 12:22 pm #

    You’ve blown me away! You have made my day complete – go raibh maith agat!!!

  4. Jude Collins March 30, 2017 at 1:43 pm #

    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
    in forests,
    small things recoil into silence,
    their senses
    eroded beyond fear.

    When great souls die,
    the air around us becomes
    light, rare, sterile.
    We breathe, briefly.
    Our eyes, briefly,
    see with
    a hurtful clarity.
    Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
    gnaws on kind words
    promised walks
    never taken.

    Great souls die and
    our reality, bound to
    them, takes leave of us.
    Our souls,
    dependent upon their
    now shrink, wizened.
    Our minds, formed
    and informed by their
    fall away.
    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.
    -Maya Angelou

    • Argenta March 30, 2017 at 11:04 pm #

      Maybe I’m missing something but the headline says “Mc Guinness tribute by John Gibson”.

  5. ANOTHER JUDE March 30, 2017 at 1:46 pm #

    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.