Crann Dara – from sapling to mighty oak

'Grandfather Tree' a painting of a tree by Sarah Zoutewelle-Morris, 2016
‘Grandfather Tree’ by Sarah Zoutewelle-Morris, 2016

What is it about trees? As far back as the Stone Age, trees have been respected and revered. Trees are our guardians. As a single tree provides shade to the traveller, collectively trees protect all life on this planet. Trees provide a habitat for a wide variety of smaller plants, animals, birds, insects, spiders (ugh) and micro-organisms. But don’t you think that there’s more?

The painting above is by an artist friend of mine in the Netherlands – Sarah Zoutewelle-Morris – and it seems to me that it reaches deeper into the spirit of trees than would straightforward botanical explanations. Her blog entitled “Art Calling” is well worth visiting as it describes her explorations and experiments as she journeys along the bumpy highways and byways of the artist. I find it very interesting to read and what inspires me most is that she never stops exploring and striving. Look down through her blog and you’ll see the most wonderful, colourful paintings…

But last Tuesday, I was at the Pearse Museum in St. Enda’s to plant an oak tree (crann dara) in memory of Patrick Pearse, one of the leaders of the Easter Rising, one hundred years ago. It meant a lot to me to have been asked and it was a lovely occasion. My nephew Eoin Gregory was handy with the watering can and Kevin Hutchinson of the Tree Council of Ireland was also in attendance. It reminded me of a photograph from an old family photo album. My father Piaras F. Mac Lochlainn was planting a tree in the garden of Scoil Bhríde in Oakley Road to remember Patrick Pearse after fifty years.

Brian Crowley, director of the Pearse Museum, Eoin Gregory, director of water,
Brian Crowley, director of the Pearse Museum, Eoin Gregory, director of water, Kevin Hutchinson, President of the Tree Council and mise, director of the shovel.

It was appropriate to be planting a tree for Pearse. We know that he was very interested in nature, (as our family still is) and it was one of the reasons that he moved his school out to St Enda’s – so that his pupils could learn by observation. His wonderful poem “The Wayfarer” celebrates the beauty of nature – ‘to see a leaping squirrel in a tree, or a red ladybird upon a stalk, or little rabbits in a field at evening, lit by a slanting sun…’  Brian Crowley, director of the Pearse Museum maintains that this poem was inspired by the fields and woods of St. Enda’s.

We shall be watching this little sapling grow throughout the summer and in the years to come.  An té nach gcuireann san Earrach, ní bhaineann sé san Fhómhar.






  1. Eoin, I’m honoured to be highlighted here, and I feel the painting of mine you chose and the subject of the blog go well together. I loved ‘Eoin Gregory, director of water’. giggle. And the link with your father also planting a tree gives a real sense of continuity.
    I like the thought that the delicate little sapling you planted for Patrick Pearse will grow into a mighty tree (hopefully), ensuring that his memory live on for at least a hundred years to come- long after yours and my generations are no longer here. Well, we’ll live on in the spirit of trees.
    thanks for including me,


    • I was delighted to include your painting Sarah, thank you for allowing it. I loved your title – ‘Opa Tree’ or ‘Grandfather Tree’. And Patrick Pearse wrote about my grandfather once saying: “Mr.McGloughlin’s name does not figure among the school staff but he might truly be called a member of staff without portfolio. He is at our service whenever we want anything done which requires artistic insight or plastic dexterity…” (He was Patrick Pearse’s nephew)


  2. Truly lovely post; it’s said that the canopy of a tree reflects it’s root system; something which we cannot see; but we can feel it, if we try and appreciate nature. Something to be learned by all. Thank you.


  3. One of the three things a true Lithuanian has do to in his life is… to plant a tree. (Just in case you are wondering what the other two are – to build a house and to raise a son.)

    You’re right about the importance of trees. I find it really amazing how a small sapling, planted with love, one day can turn into a real giant! And although I haven’t got any experience planting something as serious as an oak, I’ve planted a small orchard this spring, so I do hope that your Pearse’s tree and my pears (apples and cherries) do well. K.

    P.S. I thought I recognized Sarah’s style. I love the way she “plays” with colours.


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