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Monday 22 May 2017

Trees stolen from Ganley land, court told

Ann Healy

EIGHT ancient ash trees were chopped down on Libertas founder Declan Ganley's property to make Tipperary hurleys, a court has heard.

The trees were cut down on Mr Ganley's property at Moyne Park, Tuam, Co Galway, and the stumps are believed to have been used to make scores of hurleys.

Galway Circuit Criminal Court heard yesterday that the trees were cut very close to the ground and around five feet of wood taken -- but the top portions were discarded.

John Keane (33), from New Houses, Faugheen, Carrick-on-Suir, Co Tipperary, denies the theft of eight ash trees from Mr Ganley's property on June 12, 2009.

He also denies the theft of 14 ash trees from property owned by Mr Ganley's neighbour, Thomas McHugh at Moyne Park, Tuam, on June 10, 2009.

Mr Ganley told the jury yesterday he had never given the accused permission to enter his lands or cut down the trees.

Mr Keane claims that Mr Ganley's groundsman, Kieran Quinn, gave him permission to cut the trees down and that he mistakenly strayed into Mr McHugh's part of the wood, thinking that it belonged to Mr Ganley.

Garda Matt Marley said the trees were all cut very close to the ground and that only the butt of each tree, measuring up to five feet in length, was removed. The remaining top portion of the trees measuring from 40ft to 50ft were left behind.

He explained that the butts of ash trees are used to make hurleys as the timber takes a turn at the very bottom which is essential for the manufacture of the bas (striking surface) of the hurley and that the tops of the trees are unsuitable as they are too straight.

Garda Marley estimated that 20 to 30 hurleys could be manufactured from each tree stump, depending on the circumference of the stump.

Mr Ganley said he owned 60 acres of land, which included six to eight acres of what he described as ancient, Irish woodland, comprising a mixture of 100-year-old oak, ash and beech trees.

"I didn't give permission to anyone to cut the trees," he told the court. "It is known that we preserve and maintain these trees. In actual fact, we have a tree-planting scheme in operation for the last 15 years to bring this woodland back.

"This is an ancient wood and I have had experts survey the trees. They think this is some of the oldest woodland in this part of the country, possibly over 500 years old."

Mr Ganley said he had given strict instructions to staff that nobody was to enter his property without his permission.

Politely

Mr Quinn told the court that he never gave permission to Keane to cut trees on Mr Ganley's property. Instead, he said he politely asked him to leave when he called to Mr Ganley's home on June 10 and again on June 12, 2009.

He denied taking money from Mr Keane for the trees but said he did accept two hurleys from him.

Mr McHugh, who also had 14 trees cut down from his portion of Moyne Wood, told the jury he was upset when he discovered his trees had been felled.

"This was something I never wanted to see happen. It (the wood) was there long before me and I hope it will be there a long time afterwards. I was very hurt and mad about it."

The trial continues today.

Irish Independent

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