Hazel trees planted in Dalgan ecological project

Around 25 Columbans, co-workers, staff and the farm manager, gathered on Thursday 19th December at the entrance to the community cemetery in Dalgan for a tree planting ceremony reports Fr Pat Raleigh.

It was an ecological project spearheaded by Elizabeth McArdle, Sean McDonagh, Ger Clarke, Derry Healy and others.

100 Hazel Christmas trees had been planted over previous days around the cemetery by Elizabeth McArdle and helpers.

The ceremony began with an opening Prayer: ‘God of Wonder, you spoke the Word and all things came into being. You spoke the Word and restored right relationships through the power of the cross and resurrection. Open our lives to hear and see and honour your ongoing work of creation as You call us to ‘touch the earth lightly’ through lives of care and compassion for all that you have made. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ, your Word of hope. Amen’.


The prayer was followed with Scripture Readings from Revelation 22:1-2 and Luke 13: 6-9, the Parable of the barren fig tree.

After the readings, Fr Sean McDonagh gave the following reflection.

“Trees are particularly resonant and critical in the 21st century as the world faces a serious ecological crisis that can be traced, at least partially, to deforestation. Integral to the process that converts carbon dioxide into clean water and eventually oxygen, trees give us life. Without them we would have no future. But once again our actions speak much louder than our words. It is easy to talk about ecology, it is much more difficult to begin to plan to heat our house without using fossil fuels.”


Why plant Hazel?

Elizabeth McArdle explained that Hazel, a native species, has many uses and has an ancient history. Hazel nuts are one of the foods associated with the very earliest human settlements in Ireland of Mesolithic man who also used hazel as the strong flexible timber for his huts.

Hazel bushes may be cut right back to a stump and will regrow. The slender timber poles that result from coppicing were used in the construction of wattle and daub and fences. Hazel grows as an under storey in oak or ash woodlands or as pure hazel woods. It is often associated with a rich ground flora of woodland flowers.

Hazel is well known for its yellow ‘lamb’s tail’ catkins in spring and also for its nuts. Hazel has long been a favourite wood from which to make staffs, whether for ritual Druidic use, for medieval self-defence, as staffs made by pilgrims, or to make shepherds crooks and every day walking sticks.


This was followed by some Intercessory prayers with an emphasis on caring for the Earth which needs to be taken more seriously. The ritual concluded with the Prayer for our Earth from Laudato Si.

Charlie Meagher and staff members planted two hazel trees.


As the weather was on the cold side after a night of heavy winds and rain it was very fitting to end with a mug of mulberry wine. It was a very symbolic occasion.

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