The Irish government gives tax incentives for tree-planting, and the national forestry organisation, Coillte, has planted millions of spruce, or, as we soon learned to call them, “more fucking Christmas trees”. They are a monoculture cash crop, nothing else. Our birds do not nest in them and nothing grows beneath them once they drop their acidic needles. They are too thickly planted to walk through. On the bogs and in stark Connemara these non-native plantation strips look like a moustache on a Mona Lisa. In lush Killaloe they fit in about as well as the palm trees that struggle in every front garden.
Here and there, as in Killary Harbour, a few pine groves survive. They fit in, somehow, and they also produce good wood in less than forty years. I wonder why more are not planted instead of these Viking invaders? Must ask my friend John, who looks after Co. Clare for Coillte.