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Woodland Trust hoping public roots for 'Old Homer' to be Tree of The Year

By Chris McCullough

A 200-year-old oak tree in Co Down has been chosen as Northern Ireland's entry in a major European tree competition.

Nominated by the Woodland Trust, 'Old Homer' has graced Kilbroney Park at Rostrevor for two centuries. The holm oak, which is a mighty evergreen oak, secured the title of Northern Ireland's Tree of the Year in a competition organised by the Woodland Trust and was unveiled in a Channel 4 documentary Tree of the Year with actor Ardal O'Hanlon last December.

It now faces stiff competition from 15 other trees from as far away as Bulgaria in the competition run by the Environmental Partnership Association. The tree with the most public votes wins the title.

Old Homer, as it is affectionately known, was first nominated by Alistair Livingstone for the Northern Ireland competition on behalf of Light 2000 community group.

Alistair said: "This tree has been well-loved by generations of locals and visitors who have gathered under its huge canopy for festivals and more.

"We've worked hard to put Old Homer in the spotlight, and indeed we're determined to encourage an appreciation of the many remarkable trees within this park. We hope that members of the public will make their mark by way of a simple vote."

Patrick Cregg, director of the Woodland Trust, said: "Centuries old, this striking natural landmark reaches out to visitors at Kilbroney's Fairy Glen entrance. And, while it distinctively leans at an angle, this oak is standing tall for all of Northern Ireland's amazing, unsung trees.

"We're appealing to everyone right across the country to take a second to vote and give Old Homer the backing he deserves."

Kilbroney Park is owned by Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, and is open to all. Over the centuries it has enjoyed its fair share of famous owners and visitors.

To vote visit www.treeoftheyear.org before February 28.

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