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'Terrible vandalism' - gardai investigating after iconic Dublin tree sculpture set on fire overnight


A fire at the base of the 'Tree of Life' was started last month

A fire at the base of the 'Tree of Life' was started last month

A fire at the base of the 'Tree of Life' was started last month

Gardai have launched an investigation after the wanton vandalism of one of the most iconic sculptures on Dublin’s northside.

Called ‘The Tree of Life’ in Raheny beside the start of the Bull Island causeway, the intricate carving out of a dying Monterey cypress tree took sculptor Tommy Cragg nearly three years to complete.

But in a shocking act of destruction being compared to the repeated attack on the Luke Kelly statue, vandals ignited a fire at the base of the tree in the early hours of Monday morning.

An accelerant was used in the incident, leaving part of the sculpture seriously charred, much to the dismay of local residents.

Gardai confirmed they are aware of an incident of criminal damage which occurred at St Anne’s Park in the early hours of Monday morning. They said that inquiries are ongoing.

RTE’s Joe Duffy, who lives not far from the sculptor, described it as “terrible vandalism.”

Councillor Christy Burke said that he was “outraged” when he saw the level of damage caused to such a beautiful piece of art and said he hoped that it could be restored.

“This structure is seen as a jewel. Families and visitors go visit it every day,” he said.

Dublin Lord Mayor Tom Brabazon also condemned the attack and spoke of his sadness at what happened.

“This is a beautiful sculpture enjoyed by adults and children alike, and I want to condemn this wanton act of vandalism in the strongest possible terms,” he told Independent.ie.

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“It’s so sad to see something like this happen. I would appeal to anyone with any information to contact the Gardai.”

Durham-based Tree sculptor Tommy Craggs was commissioned to create the ten-metre high landmark by Dublin City Council (DCC) after the tree was found to be dying back in 2014.

It’s understood to be at least 200 years old and was dying but rather than remove it, DCC decided to hire Craggs to create a unique piece of art out of it.

He used a chainsaw to painstakingly eke out the shapes of various wildlife and marine animals like Brent Geese and swans in a nod to the biodiversity that exists in the nearby Bull Island.

The artist is aware of the attack and posted on his Facebook page how it had been “sadly vandalised” last night.

He told RTE’s Liveline how it’s “not as bad as I thought it was going to be” and said that it can be repaired by re-sanding it down.

The artist said he completed the project in three different stages and it was all his own design. Several coats of oil had been applied to preserve it, which would have acted as a further accelerant during the attack.

He welcomed the suggestion of installing CCTV footage nearby in a bid to to deter future acts of vandalism.