Trees mirror in many ways the life cycle of human beings: they are born from seed, they breathe and drink, they grow to maturity, reproduce and eventually die from age or disease. Their branches, roots and the veins of their leaves resemble human blood vessels, and certain species even ooze a reddish, blood-like sap when damaged.
From ancient times, people appreciated the spiritual value of trees, singling out individual trees for special veneration. In Ireland the roots of tree worship reach deep into pagan Celtic religion and spirituality. Christine Zucchelli looks at these trees, from Fairy Thorns to Rag Trees, from Mass Bushes to Monument Trees. This fascinating exploration of their stories and legends reveals their spiritual, social and historical functions from pagan times to the present.
Christine Zucchelli first visited Ireland in the 1980s. Captivated by the wealth of the country's heritage, after graduating from Innsbruck University she studied Irish Folklore at University College Dublin. She travelled the country in search of the myths, legends and folklore behind the veneration of particular stones and trees. While living in west Clare, she worked as a guide and organiser of special-interest tours to Ireland, and researched aspects of the sacred landscape. She now lives in Innsbruck although she travels to Ireland as often as possible.