Belfast Telegraph

Award for the mighty oak that inspired Narnia tales

By Sophie Inge

An evergreen oak in the park where C.S. Lewis was inspired to write the Chronicles of Narnia has been crowned Northern Ireland's Tree of the Year.

The Woodland Trust competition saw six trees across Northern Ireland compete for public favour, the winner securing 1,192 votes.

Known affectionately as "Old Homer", the tree in Kilbroney Park, Rostrevor, was planted some 200 years ago by the Ross family on what was then their private estate.

The Park - now council-owned and open to the public - has native and exotic specimens from around the world planted by the family.

Northern Ireland's winner - along with the winning trees in England, Scotland and Wales - was revealed in the Channel 4's Tree of the Year with Ardal O'Hanlon. In second place was the Great Ardmore Oak in Ardmore, Derry, with 368 votes, followed by the Picnic Tree, a sycamore at Cloughbane Farm, Pomeroy with 302 votes.

The tree will represent Northern Ireland in the European Tree of the Year Contest next February.

The tree was nominated by Alistair Livingstone on behalf of the LIGHT 2000 community group.

Mr Livingstone said: "This oak has been loved by countless generations of local people, and it's the tree that crowds continue to gather under during the Fiddler's Green Festival - an international celebration of music and culture."

"It certainly inspired the Belfast-born C.S. Lewis, who said the view from Kilbroney Park (then known as the Meadow) overlooking Carlingford Lough was his idea of Narnia."

The park now has a Narnia trail tucked away in the arboretum.

Patrick Cregg, director of the Woodland Trust, said: "I recently visited Kilbroney Park and was overwhelmed by this much-loved oak which guards the enchanting Fairy Glen entrance. I was equally taken with the beauty of the park as a whole, and by the enthusiasm of the LIGHT 2000 group."

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