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Giant redwoods | © Michael Balint/Flickr
Giant redwoods | © Michael Balint/Flickr
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The Largest Redwood Forest Outside California Is Coming To Ireland

Picture of Kate Phelan
Updated: 10 November 2016
The award-winning walled gardens at Birr Castle, County Offaly, have already broken several world records. Now, the current owner of the castle has set his sights on the garden becoming the home to the largest forest of giant redwoods outside the US, in an ambitious project designed to commemorate the Irish diaspora worldwide.

Throughout their history, the gardens at the castle – the family seat of the Earl of Rosse, a title of nobility granted by the British Crown – have made a habit of breaking records. In 1845, the third Earl had the six-foot Leviathan telescope constructed on the grounds – the largest in the world until the Hooker Telescope was built in Los Angeles in 1917. More recently, the three-hundred-year-old box hedges in the gardens have been noted as the tallest in the world according to the Guinness Book of Records, standing 12 metres high.

Building on this reputation for world fame, the seventh Earl of Rosse has now embarked on his own record-breaking project: to establish the largest grove of giant redwoods outside of California in the Irish midlands. The so-called Giants Grove will bring these colossal trees – which were native to Ireland before the Ice Age – back home as a symbol of hope for both the return of departed Irish emigrants and the protection of the species against climate change, which is currently endangering their survival.

The project, in partnership with the Crann: Trees for Ireland organisation, aims to provide a new home for both giant and coastal redwoods, insuring against their extinction, while also becoming a ‘living tribute’ to the millions of Irish living far from home. Members of the public are being encouraged to sponsor the planting of the more than 2,000 redwoods to be located at Giants Grove, dedicating their own ‘giant’ to friends or family members living abroad.

Lord Rosse and his grandchildren | Courtesy of Giants Grove

Lord Rosse and his grandchildren | Courtesy of Giants Grove