*Photograph: Joe Buckley
“Palpable upset” has been expressed in Quin over the “butchering” of an iconic tree nestled in the heart of the village.
On Friday, a tree situated in Quin across from Crowe’s Stores that served as a landmark for locals en route to Ennis was cut down by the local authority who attributed their action to the decay and infection of the tree which posed a health and safety risk.
A spokesperson for Clare County Council said “significant additional decay” was uncovered by an independent arborist company from Cork in its most recent assessment of the tree “which required action”.
The spokesperson detailed, “The tree was infected with Ganoderma, resulting in substantial rot and many hollow cavities within it. This put the tree at risk of catastrophic failure. Due to its position at the edge of a busy junction, the Killaloe Municipal District had no choice but to act upon this health and safety matter and remove this tree so as to prevent it from falling onto the public roads”. The extent of the “severe rot” was visible on Friday.
Following the redrawing of local electoral areas, as of May 2019 the village of Quin has fallen into the responsibility of the Killaloe Municipal District. The tree is said to be over 300 years old.
Clarity on the tree’s removal was sought at Tuesday’s meeting of the Ennis Municipal District. Quin native, Cllr Clare Colleran Molloy (FF) said “the most amazing tree framed the village” until its “demolition” by the Council. A dismayed local contacted the former Mayor of Clare to flag that the “largest and most iconic tree in Quin was cut down and butchered by Clare County Council”. Referring to the age of the tree, Clare stated, “it should have been protected like a listed building”.
After contacting Cllr Alan O’Callaghan (FF) on Saturday, Colleran Molloy revealed that he was unaware of the felling as were all elected representatives in the Killaloe MD. She rebuked remarks from Cllr O’Callaghan and Cllr Pat Hayes (FF) that the decision to cut the tree was made by the Ennis MD prior to the 2019 local elections.
Due diligence has been followed by the County Council when it comes to reporting dangerous trees in Ennis and Clarecastle, Cllr Paul Murphy (FG) noted.
When trees are found to be towards the end of life cycle or at risk, they undergo annual assessments, senior executive officer with the Ennis MD, Leonore O’Neill explained. “This tree was listed at high risk in our last assessment, the reports were forwarded to the Killaloe MD,” she confirmed. “Advanced disease or safety are the only reasons for felling” by the local authority, O’Neill outlined.
Speaking on Tuesday, Colleran Molloy claimed that indication of the tree reaching end of life was supposed to be made known to East Clare councillors in September 2019 with a reminder issued twelve months later.
She continued, “That tree was a part of the heritage of Quin village, notice should have been given to the people so they could say their goodbyes to the tree. A five foot stump is left now, will it be removed, will a new tree be added. Some may say why am I going on about tree but there was palpable upset”.
Trees are protected by the local authority, O’Neill responded. “The felling of a tree is a sad moment,” she acknowledged. “We had identified this tree as diseased. Due diligence was informed from specialists”.
Killaloe MD will liaise with the Quin Tidy Towns Committee to ensure that an agreeable solution in relation to replacement planting at this location is reached, a spokesperson for the local authority confirmed.