Offaly set for Ireland's first Giant Redwood forest since the ice age

The trees were native to Ireland and Europe before the onset of the last ice age, around 30,000 years ago

An ambitious new project is aiming to create the world’s largest forest grove of giant redwood trees, outside of California - in Co. Offaly.

The Giants Grove Project aims to plant over 2000 of the massive trees within the historic gardens of Birr Castle Gardens. 

The forest will contain a mix of giant redwoods - which can grow to an astonishing 300-feet-high - as well as smaller coastal redwoods and other Irish natives like holly and arbutus.

The project is a collaboration between Irish tree-planting organisation Crann, and Castle resident, Brendan Parsons, the Earl of Rosse.

The trees were native to Ireland and Europe before the onset of the last ice age, around 30,000 years ago.

There are still some specimens scattered around the country, however nothing to the extent of the grove planned in Offaly.

Many environmentalists are concerned the massive trees could be facing into a difficult future as result of environmental change and the project hopes Ireland’s comparatively cool climate will offer them sanctuary into the future.

The project will target the Irish diaspora with the opportunity to sponsor and name a tree in dedicated spaces in the forest.

Members of the public are encouraged to sponsor one of the giants in the name of loved ones living at home or abroad or in memory of those “gone before us.”

At a cost of €500, the sponsorship will pay for the planting, care & maintenance of the forest grove and sponsor names will be recorded in a book of honour inside the Castle.

If successful, the grove is expected to endure “for the next 1000 years or more” and sponsors will also receive a certificate with GPS details of where the tree is situated in the forest.

Launching the project, Lord Rosse said initiative is “very close to my heart.”

“Our grandchildren, their grandchildren, Birr, Ireland and the world will benefit from this magnificent forest grove,” he said.

“By investing in this project with us, the sponsors will have the opportunity to make a personal impact on Ireland’s environment and world biodiversity conservation.

“Even if your family has long left Ireland, by investing in the Giants Grove you can ensure their family roots remain in Ireland for generations to come.”

The gardens are already home to another giant - the Great Telescope, known as the Leviathan, which was built in front of the castle in the 1840s and was the largest in the world for 70 years.

The award-winning gardens are well-known for their collection of trees and plants from around the world and the project aims to give the area a boost in tourism as well as bio-diversity.