This veteran weeping ash stands in the corner of Newry’s Paupers’ Graveyard.  Its glorious canopy hides a centuries-old hollowed trunk, full of character, stories and wildlife. How fitting that this is the weeping variety, because this ash has certainly witnessed and withstood its share of poignant and turbulent times.  The tree stands on sacred grounds – the final resting place of over 2,000 hapless local souls who perished in the workhouse.  These were victims of destitution, disease and injustice from around 1860 to 1946. And in 1953 the remains of those who died during The Great Hunger (1845-1851) were reinterred. On seeing this tree please pause and reflect on the lives of those who share this little graveyard.

One of six charismatic contenders shortlisted by the Woodland Trust in the search for Northern Ireland’s Tree of the Year 2017, vote for your favourite tree now at www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/treeoftheyear.

The competition aims to highlight and celebrate the country’s remarkable, yet unsung, trees. And members of the public are asked to play a part by simply voting for their favourite from the final shortlist.

The Shortlist

Northern Ireland’s six splendid specimens, chosen by experts from across a number of organisations, are:

  • The Weeping Tree: Weeping ash, Paupers’ Graveyard, Newry, County Down
  • The Armada Tree: Spanish chestnut, Cairncastle, near Larne, County Antrim
  • The Bicycle Tree: Horse chestnut, Lisnarick village, County Fermanagh
  • The College Tree: Cut leaved hornbeam, Foyle College/Londonderry High School, Derry-Londonderry
  • The Erskine House Tree: Oriental plane tree, Belfast City Hospital/Queen’s University Belfast
  • The Weeping Ash: Main Street, Bangor, County Down

The winning tree will benefit from a tree care award of up to £1,000, which might assist a health check from a specialist, educational materials or a community event in celebration of the tree.

Patrick Cregg is the director of the Woodland Trust in Northern Ireland and said: “We invited nominations for the country’s best-loved trees – trees with stories – and were heartened by the response. We’re now delighted to share the final shortlist of six. Each has a truly fabulous story to tell, from the most poignant to the most entertaining.

“The Woodland Trust is calling for better protection for ancient trees and woodland. And this competition is just one way of putting our precious trees in the limelight, giving them the attention they deserve. By reminding people of their value, we hope they will continue to thrive for future generations.”

The Woodland Trust’s Tree of the Year competition runs in Northern Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales. Each country, thanks to the public vote, will have its own champion. Just one of the four national winners will be selected to represent the UK in the 2018 European Tree of the Year contest.

Voting ends on 8 October.