. ..Another tale speaks to us about a potentially ‘Irish Robin Hood’, an outlaw where the tradition, as it states, burried the goods he took under
“a tree marked with the ace of spades”.
TodaysWanderluster present’s you, with this week’s article on the Cratloe Woods,
‘The Ancient Irish Woods of Cratloe’.
… love the ambiance of a forest? Would you like to read something simular, where you explore more on about Flora & Fauna? Check out our article on Killarney National Park, ‘The Gates of the Ring of Kerry’ .. .
as always, Welcome back to TodaysWanderluster !! It is Friday 21st of August and this week we will travel north-west to one of Ireland’s most ancient Woods, venture into the mythical and mysterious ambiance that like a dense fog, dwells on these dark and shadowed Woods.
Our this week’s location, Cratloe Woods
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Discovering the Woods of Cratloe
Walking down the seemingly endless shaded forest trails,
underneath the overhanging canopy of the oak and pine trees. We walk slowly, looking all around us, yet without a single question as we wander out deeper and deeper into the woods accompanied only by our own shadow and the small strands of sunlight, that break through the branches. Putting trust in the trial that we allow ourselves to be guided by, walking with our two legs of curiosity.
This trail bends and curves our attention that from time to time seems to make it’s way back to us as we become aware of all the different little sounds that lurk around, like wild animals that do not wish to be spotted but are pulled by their interest to observe the modern humans weaponised with their smart phones and digital cameras.
The crunching of the gravel, pebble and leaves beneath our feet, the gentle rustling of the leaves as the wind triggers the branches to move in a particular rhythm, we hear the conversation between the birds that fly over and together..
they all form what’s known as, the ‘voice of a forest’.. ..
the spell of distraction.
Near a small village of Cratloe in the Irish county of Clare, which finds itself situated quite close to the nearby flowing Ralty river to it’s west, beyond the medieval castle of Bunratty, the Shannon estuary to it’s south and the Woodcock Hill Bog to it’s east, lies an ancient wood that goes by the name of ‘Cratloe Wood’. An Irish wood, counting over 1000 years in age.
Certain historical and cartographic records indicate that these woods have been in existance since 1680 AD. Records like the palynological records give us an even more earlier figure, the year 1600 AD, however another figure points out that these woods have been around for way longer than just that as they date back to the year 700 AD.
Given by Wikipedia.org,
surveys along with mapping the site at Cratloe Woods date back to around the 17th century hence classifing the site at Cratloe (encompassing the ‘Garranone’) as an ancient wood, which makes these Irish woods more than just any other ordinary forest that we can pass on our way, but “historically important” to the continent of Europe.
.. ..Literature. …
The age of these woods proves to be important and is what makes them so special and unique, making their appearance present in literature, as the Cratloe woods have been leaving a mark on their past visitors through-out the centuries and so do they continue to leave a mark on it’s modern day visitors as well as those who read poetry or hear all the different traditional tales and stories in which they of course, appear in.
Some great examples of the Cratloe woods poetry is as given by Wikipedia, a poem by Elizabeth Bowen and Samuel Ferguson “The Lapful of Nuts”. Both of these known and notable writers have expressed their feelings and/or thoughts about these woods that they conveyed through their writing. Bowen’s poem, talking about the continuity of the Irish landscape having the woodland at Garranone symbolising her point and Ferguson’s poem, dating back to approx. the mid 19th century, where the writer shines a light on his memories of the Cratloe woods as he describes his good times collecting nuts with his sweetheart.
.. .Tales & Stories …
As mentioned above,
the woods at Cratloe also appear in traditional tales and stories. Examples we are going to share with you are some of the best known and can also be found on Wikipedia. Brian Merriman’s ‘Cúirt An Mheán Oíche’ (in english – The Midnight Court) known as the greatest comic poem in the history of Irish literature, mentioned a highwayman that appears in local tradition, that claims he hid his treasure somewhere in the Cratloe woods under one of it’s trees.
Another tale speaks to us about a potentially ‘Irish Robin Hood’, an outlaw where the tradition, as it states, burried the goods he took under “a tree marked with the ace of spades”. Now, not once has a tale or story been prooven to have been real, so one can never know, if in fact there was a figure in Irish history like such. Who knows, maybe there might still be a tree out there somewhere in those woods where the ace of spades mark can still be visible.
Our third story is something that surprised us, just wait until you hear… .
The Cratloe wood (as in, the wood taken out of the woods) has said to have been apparently used when making the roof beams of the ‘Palace of Westminster’ in city of London aswell as the ‘Royal Palace’ in the city of Amsterdam. It is said that both have been made from the ancient oaks when Cratloe Woods was cleared.
It was also claimed that the wood from the Cratloe woods was used for the St.Mary’s Cathedral in Limerick city. With the roof of the cathedral originally constructed with ‘Irish Oak’ and a set of carved misericords (which is a small wooden structure formed on the underside of a folding seat in a church which) said to be one of the last remaining in the country of Ireland that date back to as far as the 16th century.
As Wikipedia mentions on the topic, archived at Trinity or the University of Dublin, are the sources on the history of these Woods recorded in an unpublished doctoral thesis, which are known as ‘Foruisbh’ in medieval manuscipts mentioning the site of the O’Brien hunting grounds.
The Cratloe Woods have already been well-known across Ireland since the Middle Ages.. .. .
Finishing this article on a rather sad note.. as much of the oak forest at Cratloe has been replaced with coniferous softwoods on the turn of the past century as a result of the wide spread clearing of the Forest for the exploitation of natural resources, with only small pockets of native oak to have been spared, the largest and most known pocket is the Garronon Wood which can be seen on the hillside (north of the N18)
Thank you for joining us on this adventure of the Cratloe Woods . We hope you enjoyed reading this blog post and found it informative.
In our next week’s article we will be exploring another Irish wood, this one located in county Galway – the Woods of Portumna.
Our previous article on the ‘Rock of Cashel for the Photographers’ you may find here or in the below panel if featured.
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