Dark Hedges spared the axe

The future of the iconic Dark Hedges was put into jeopardy last week with a report suggesting the felling of several of its trees.

Dark Hedges spared the axe.

The Dark Hedges are a famous Irish landmark synonymous with TV show Game of Thrones. They have become one of the country’s most popular tourist attractions since their appearance in the show.

But their future is in jeopardy after it was revealed that 11 of its trees faced being cut down.

However, the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council has voted to spare all but one tree from the axe, saving the Dark Hedges. But for how long?

Reports last week – 11 trees faced the axe

Reports last week suggested that 11 trees faced being cut down.
Credit: Tourism Northern Ireland

Last week, reports surfaced that 11 of the 86 trees that make up the Dark Hedges faced the axe.

The trees – one of which is already dead – were found to pose significant risk to visitors to the Dark Hedges.

The trees were planted along the Bregagh Road in 1775 to line the way to Gracehill House. Therefore, many of them are well past maturity, making branch breakages common, especially during periods of stormy weather.

The Save the Dark Hedges campaign accuses authorities of abandoning the County Antrim landmark made famous by hit TV show Game of Thrones.

Dark Hedges spared the axe – only one tree to be felled

Dark Hedges spared the axe.
Credit: Ireland’s Content Pool/ Tourism Ireland

However, six of the aforementioned trees are subject to protection orders. This protected status allowed the Dark Hedges a stay of execution, as it were: consent was required from the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council.

The Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council met last week and “resolved to agree to the felling of one Tree Preservation Order tree”, according to ITV News.

The Dark Hedges – an iconic tourist attraction

The future of the iconic tourist attraction remains in danger.
Credit: commons.wikimedia.org

Since their appearance in HBO’s Game of Thrones, the Dark Hedges have become one of Northern Ireland’s biggest tourist attractions. But despite the council’s decision to cut down just one of the proposed 11, doubts remain over the safety of visitors.

Rob McCallion of the Save the Dark Hedges campaign said, “Because of the amount of people who stand under these trees, there is no way the council can reject the findings” of the original report.

“If they don’t do something over these trees, someone is going to be killed because of the state they’re in,” continued McCallion.

DUP councillor and member of the Dark Hedges Preservation Trust, Mervyn Storey, worries about the future of the attraction.

In an interview with the Belfast Telegraph, Storey lamented that “there was no money put in to do something like an aggressive tree planting scheme” and conceded that “it’s far too late for that” now.

Storey went on to liken conservation efforts to “trying to keep something alive that has been in the intensive care unit for a good number of years”, adding that “these trees are not going to last forever”.

So, the Dark Hedges have been spared the axe. But for how long? If you plan on seeing this iconic Irish landmark, you may have to act soon.

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