‘To further planting of trees’: Arbor Day in 20th century Ireland

Mary Forrest

Abstract


Arbor Day, historically devoted to tree planting, connected people with trees and left a legacy for future generations. Reports in local and national newspapers describe Arbor Days in 20th century Ireland. They were organised by The Irish Forestry Society, 1904-1923; the Department of Lands 1935-1939 and Trees for Ireland 1950- 1984, two voluntary groups and a state sponsor, in co-operation with local authorities. While the aim was to promote afforestation, in time it fostered an interest in trees in rural and, more particularly, in urban communities, what is now known as urban forestry. Arbor Days followed a similar format with speeches by local politicians and clergy referencing the social, sometimes nationalistic role of trees, followed by tree planting by them and young people. The inculcation of a life-long interest in trees in young people was obvious in each period. Planting in school or college grounds, though evident throughout the periods under consideration, was most pronounced from 1935-1939. In the period 1952-1984, the sites selected in Dublin were located in developing suburbs or large public housing schemes. Arbor Day was adopted by local community groups who also organised tree planting. Arbor Day in Ireland mirrored Arbor Day in the US and Australia. There is little evidence to suggest that Arbor Day furthered afforestation. However, it was a valuable environmental and educational initiative in periods of political and economic change in 20th century Ireland. Arbor Day foreshadowed environmental initiatives current in 21st century Ireland and worldwide.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2014/igj.v51i1.1345

URN: http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:irg:ie:0000-igj.v51i1.13459

URN (PDF): http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:irg:ie:0000-igj.v51i1.1345.g11211

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