In ancient Ireland, there were five great trees considered by legend to be sacred above all others. They were said to be the guardians of the provinces as there was one in each province.
The five trees were said to have been planted by Fintan Mac Bochra or Fintan ‘the white-haired ancient’, from the berries he received from a mythological giant called Trefuilngid Tre-eochair. This mysterious man arrived at the King’s court in Tara, County Meath and had with him a branch that grew apples, acorns, and hazelnuts.
He asked the High King to bring together the 14 wisest men in Ireland who were chosen to learn all of the wisdom from the Irish tree seeds. He thought them all about their history and heritage and shared with them his knowledge of the land. During his time with them, he did not eat or drink but was sustained by the fragrance of the fruits of the branch.
He presented Fintan, the wisest of all, with the branch. Fintan then extracted seeds and planted them in each province and one in the centre at Uisneach
The first Irish tree is the Eó Mugna. ‘Eó’ is the Irish word for the yew tree, but Eó Mugna was said to be a mighty Oak. This tree also grew the apples, acorns, and hazelnuts that were featured on the branch brought by Trefuilngid Tre-eochair. It is thought to have been located at Ballaghmoon in Co Kildare.
The other sacred trees were Bile Tortan, an Ash tree, which was planted at Ard Breccan near Navan in Co Meath. Eó Ruis was a Yew tree planted at old Leighlin in Co Carlow. Craeb Daithí was also an Ash that grew at Farbill in Co Westmeath and Craeb Uisnig was another sacred Ash that grew in the centre of Ireland at Uisneach.
The five sacred trees were associated with the prosperity of the land. They offered food, protection and shelter. They were also associated with knowledge, wisdom and inspiration. All five trees fell at the same time around 600 AD. The reason is unknown, but it is prophesied that they will shoot up again from the roots of the old.