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Oakland

September 12, 2021

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On a recent trip back to my original homeland; Ireland, we went off in search of the last remaining ancient Oakland. We headed down through Wicklow into the lush green fields of Wexford to a small town known as Tinahealy. Here one can find the simply stunning Tomnafinnogue woods. Tom Na Finnogue is gaelic for; The Bush of the Hooded Crow and is the last remaining woodland of its kind in Ireland. I personally find this deeply troubling and I’m not alone. Several high profile artists including U2’s the Edge, the Hot House Flowers, Black Velvet Band and my very own uncle who is a children’s artist; Don Conroy fought long and hard to keep the woods standing. Their persistence paid off and in 1992 Wicklow county council bought the site and has managed the 165 acre of Oakland since.

She is a mysterious twist of walks, laneways, railway arches and wetlands. The trees are golden, dusty and majestic, the Oaks seem to be genuinely thriving as they have not got many pesky Beech neighbours invading their roots!

We dropped into our bodies, practising some mindfulness and sat with some of these old, wise ones. There presence is so fundamental to our wellness and that of the biosphere as a whole. May we deepen our connection with all beings and never get truly lost.

The following poem eloquently describes how we are never lost when in the woods, unless of course we want to be…

Lost

Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.

The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.

If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.

No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.

If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,

You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.

David Wagoner

ClareDonegan © 2020