Not far from where I live in beautiful Wicklow is a yew tree I like to visit every once and a while. The Glencormac yew is estimated to be around six hundred years old, I love to stand at it’s base and stare up at at the gnarled trunk, coiled and rippled with age. This tree has a real magical presence.
It’s situated at the end of a small avenue of younger yews not far from a busy cafe. Aside from children playing chase very few folks seem to venture down to pay homage to this old gent. So if you go along to pay a visit you will nearly always be left alone in the presence of these yews. It’s a lovely respite from the day to day hustle just a few seconds away.
It’s generally assumed to ascribe a wisdom to trees, their unshifting presence suggests a stoic philosophy, they remain through the years impervious to political climates and only need to worry about the atmospherical ones. Which they have due right to be more and more concerned about. As long as they don’t fall victim to axe, disease or digger they can remain resolute, faithful witnesses to the world.
A few years ago a tree blew down during a storm in Sligo, entangled within it’s roots, as if clinging in desperation, was an ancient skeleton. It seems that this person was buried on that spot around a thousand years ago and the tree, which was a two-hundred year old beech, grew above him. The tree roots eventually entwined with the bones wrapping the two together in a strangely wonderful embrace.
Through the tree’s demise it finally offered up the secret it kept cradled within it’s roots for all those years to us.
Going back to yew trees they are very hard to age accurately as they hollow out over time, kind of how I feel after every birthday! Of course I’m going for the cheap gag here, I believe like trees we grow richer with age, our gnarled barks a victory badge of time.
Known to be traditionally planted in places of spiritual significance it’s thought that the spot where the Glencormac yew sits may have marked the start of an ancient pilgrimage.
I often wonder as I stand looking up at this great tree what it has witnessed throughout all the years and if it holds any mysteries within it’s roots.