Episode 20 - Trees as the Route to Happiness Whether its Walking or Wood Turning
This is the last programme in the series, and it features ways in which we get joy out of Trees. To this end Monica met wood-turner Liam Kirwan who takes great pleasure in making wooden objects from different types of trees. But first she took a walk with Kilkenny man and Coillte manager Mick Power to hear about Coillte's open forest policy
There's no doubt about it, trees give us many things and over the course of this programme series we have heard about many of these benefits. But probably one of the nicest things about trees is how they give us an avenue for our creativity, and they provide a beautiful space in which to walk.
Mick Power is National Estates Manager with Coillte with responsibility for biotic risk and we meet him in Castlemorris Woodlands just outside Kilkenny. Castlemorris is an old landed gentry estate which came into the hands of the state back in the 1920s. There has always been a woodland area on the 600-acre site and the trees that we see today are third generation trees. It contains a mix of species and is managed under a continuous cover management system. Mixtures of different types of trees are best, according to Mick, who advocates the old adage of planting the right tree in the right place.
Coillte's open forest policy is not just of benefit to them from a safety point of view, but it delivers a wonderful amenity to the public as well. Their commercial activities support the development of woodlands like Castlemorris which have mainly been set aside for biodiversity and recreation. Mick has borne witness to many changes over the 40 odd years working with trees but one of the most recent and positive developments has been people's increased engagement with nature and trees. From Mick's point of view, there is nothing as nice as hanging out with trees.
Another man who likes to spend time with wood rather than woodlands in Kilkenny woodturner Liam Kirwan. He makes everything from earrings, to bowls and uses many different types of local wood in his projects. For example, he makes pens from 32 different Irish timbers. Does anyone remember the lovely Beech tree that used to grow in the Kilkenny Castle park? It was over 200 years old when it fell in a storm and its timber was distributed to craftspeople from which they could make things. Liam makes pens from this wood, but they are very popular, and he doesn't have that much left now.
Wood from the fruit trees can look the same but others are very distinctive like ash with its pale colour and London Plane with its herring bone effect. Always cut with the grain, use dry wood and give the object the respect of a good finish is what makes a well-turned piece - that and the patience of the turner. They are a patient people- like trees.