Thursday, 24 November 2011

The Crom Yews


The yews at Crom [Estate in County Fermanagh] are probably the oldest trees in Northern Ireland. Lord Erne claims they are 800 years old and he may well be correct.

They are inseparable siblings, one brother, one sister, planted together so that now, from the outside, they appear to be one huge dark green mass. Within, branches sweep down and twist around, traces of training in the past now long abandoned.

In the late 1840s the tree is described as having its horizontal spreading branches supported on wooden pillars with gravel walks between them. They spread over an area about 75’ across and it was said that “A party of 200 have often dined under the tree”.

The trees are close to the ruins of the old Crom Castle which they pre-date by hundreds of years.

One of the great O’Neills of the sixteenth century is believed to have said farewell to his lady love under the already mature Crom Yews.

It may have been Shane O’Neill later killed by the MacDonnells of Antrim, or more likely the great Hugh who battled against Queen Elizabeth I and eventually left the country in the `flight of the earls’ in 1603.

When Cecil Kilpatrick, former Chief Forest Officer, measured the trees in 1977, the eastern tree had a girth of 14’ 11” and a height of 30’, the western tree 13’ 8” round and 37’ tall.

Since then they have been ‘tidied’ and have lost some of their mystery: it is now easy to get under and through their combined canopy.

Although the grounds are now with the National Trust, the present house and immediate garden with its fine specimen trees are still the property of Lord Erne.

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