Trees, Abbey and Easter Greeting!

An Appreciation of Creation

Tom Keane, Cork

Trees of Abbey at Stanny Burke's
Zena Hoctor
Trees of Abbey
Zena Hoctor
Village Green, Abbey
Frances Holohan
Preparation for Easter
Tom Keane

A recent visit to Marty Mahon’s sawmill generated, for me, a new understanding of trees and timber.  There, I saw a tree being transformed into a litter of wooden stakes.  I am an admirer of trees and poems about trees.  In Abbey school we learned about the beauty of trees from the pen of poet Joyce Kilmer; he presented a story of their hidden beauty but in Cappa there was the inside story of trees, with their coats off, without bark, namely of wood or timber.  Mankind and timber have been fellow travellers for centuries, from cradle to grave.  Noah’s Ark kept man’s chin above water and the Ark of The Covenant lifted it higher to aim for a spiritual destiny.  Neil Diamond sings “Money talks”; I think, “timber speaks louder”.

A roof over our heads or a floor to support us requires timber. Furniture is almost completely timber; some varieties are more exclusive and expensive than others.

I sit at a mahogany table, bought for five pounds, in 1967. There are many woods more expensive than mahogany but a parlour, even if rarely used, with a mahogany table, had a very high rating, fifty years ago.  Ireland imports timber sometimes; without big poles from Scandinavia there would not be any night light in Woodford and Abbey in the fifties. Many small timbers or shrubs box well above their weight also.  A skollop, made from hazel, has little power on its own but with thousands of others it has kept many thatched roofs in their places.

The small stick or gabhlog, placed in the middle of a rabbit hop, helped to generate pocket-money for, near penniless, schoolboys.  The sally and willow only displayed their beauty and usefulness when they were fashioned into sciobs and baskets.  Eggs in a basket, even on the handlebars of a bicycle, the ultimate test, were guaranteed safe transport.  A bamboo fishing rod performed, as prescribed.  I get a shiver when I hear the word bamboo.  Some say that hurleys can now be made from bamboo.  As the long running advertisement in newspapers of the fifties said before the launch of the drink “Time”, “time will tell”.  I believe in ash.  Where else will you get a proper grain, a satisfying spring and a resounding clash of the ash?  The discovery of the hurley meant that boy or girl, man or woman, with left or right hand on top, could now engage in a game fit for the gods.  Some golden ages end; not so for hurling.

Abbey always stood tall for its trees and timbers with its neighbouring Kylemore and Kylebrack and its lorried deliveries from Stanny’s to the Phoenix Park in 1948 to provide firewood for a threatened, third world war.

I miss half-doors and small gates.  The half door, made of timber, was more than a blocker of farmyard fowl; it often supported the arms of the houseowner when sharing the news of the day with a willing conversationalist and the small gate, with its bolt and unoiled hinges gave advance notice of any arriving  visitor.  A single open gate plan does not suit everybody and the day of cattle wandering on “the long acre” is long gone.

I haven’t said anything about timber in musical instruments, vehicles, paper, toys or in many other by-products.

Trees and timber were twice chosen by the Divine: once, at creation and again at salvation.  It is almost time now to join our church in paying a special tribute as it reminds us to “Behold the wood of the cross on which hung the Saviour of the world”. No better reason for wishing a very happy Easter!

This page was added on 24/03/2024.

No Comments

Start the ball rolling by posting a comment on this page!

Add a comment about this page

Your email address will not be published.