Belfast Telegraph

Old pictures of Moira: From the Belfast Telegraph archives

By Paul Carson

Among the well-known landmarks on the old Belfast to Dublin road for many years were four statuesque lime trees at Moira, Co Down.

They stood outside a pub called, appropriately, The Four Trees and at one time marked a popular stopping point for the old Dublin stagecoach.

In the late 1950s forestry experts called in by Moira Rural Council to inspect the much-loved limes declared them to be unsafe. The four trees would have to come down.

But they didn't come down without a fight, as many locals were bitterly opposed to the removal of the trees. The author of a letter to the Belfast Telegraph in May 1958 urged: "What good purpose can be served by their removal when such wonderful pleasure and happiness can be maintained by their preservation?"

As the council hesitated over cutting down the trees, nature herself took a hand. On a stormy night in September 1961 one of them was blown down by high winds. A short time later the remaining trees were removed.

Some villagers got used to their absence while some became opposed to any plans to replace them. However, local tree lovers eventually won the day and after being presented with a 150-signature petition, the council agreed to plant four new trees.

It wasn't until 1967 that the replacements were finally put in place, but just before that happened, there was a final twist in the saga of the four trees. During the night of March 1, someone planted four beech trees on the plot and erected a sign saying: "We shall not be moved." However, on the next day the trees were unceremoniously uprooted by council workmen - who then proceeded to plant four `official' copper beeches.

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