Entering Castlewellan Forest Park, on one side is the vast field where the annual Castlewellan agricultural show and other events take place.
Standing by itself, easily seen from the entrance drive, is an ancient native ash, Fraxinus excelsior.
Its trunk is the largest of any tree in the field, though lime, beech, and sweet chestnut have much greater crown growth. The ash is an old survivor, battered and part dead.
Its trunk is nearly 20’ in girth. It is hollow, with cavities at the roots which are great knobbly growths spreading out all round yet still keeping the old trunk firmly anchored.
Because the tree is not conventionally beautiful it has been threatened with felling, removal, ‘tidying away’. Thank goodness for local forester Sam Harrison who has defended it. The ash is a super example of just how much life there can be in a senescent tree. Birds, bats and insects would miss it sorely if it went. So would sheep and people, at least once a year.