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Forest folklore and the enchanting power of trees


The Belfast Hills Partnership will be getting to the root of woodland folklore and fable this weekend as autumn erupts in colour.

The conservation group will be taking a guided walk through Colin Glen Forest Park in Belfast on Saturday and explaining how our woods have played an integral part in myth and legend.

There will be a chance for people to consult the tree calendar and find out their ‘birth tree’ – much like a star sign.

Colin Glen will provide the backdrop where a breathtaking array of native trees and shrubs including oak, ash, silver birch, alder, hawthorn, blackthorn, hazel, holly and willow are shedding their autumn foliage.

The glen and its woods and river are also home to badgers, foxes, rabbits, hedgehogs, field mice, otters and bats. 

Located in the west of the city it is of environmental importance because the majority of its trees are indigenous.

Belfast Hills Partnership project officer Judy Meharg said native trees were teaming with folklore, enchantment and apparent healing powers.

She said:

“Woodland with its elves and fairies, evocative tales of Hansel and Gretel and Little Red Riding Hood, has captured our imagination as far back as the books we read in the nursery so we hope to relate to that folklore.

“In Celtic tradition, hazel is regarded as the tree of knowledge, holly protected people in winter and rowan was used to ward off evil spirits.

“Our ancestors enjoyed medicinal benefits from trees and modern medicine has shown how willow bark, developed into aspirin.

“Trees not only generate oxygen and store carbon, but provide homes to a huge range of wildlife, with a native Irish oak able to support up to 500 species, including red squirrels, barn owls, pipistrelle bats and tree sparrows.”

The free event takes place at Colin Glen Forest Park Centre on Saturday, October 4 from 10am to 1pm.

For further information contact the Belfast Hills Partnership on 028 90 60 34 66, email info@belfasthills.org, or go to www.belfasthills.org

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