'Wishing tree' falls under the weight of visitors' relics
'Wishing trees' at a Co Meath heritage site are falling from the weight of underwear, handcuffs and plastic relics which are being hung from their branches, according to locals.
The Tara Skryne Preservation Group is now appealing to visitors to the Hill of Tara to stop suffocating the trees after one of the hawthorns fell recently.
The fallen hawthorn is one of two so-called 'wishing' or 'fairy trees' on the Hill of Tara, between which visitors stand and request something new in their life.
In line with old tradition, small bits of linen or cotton strips were tied loosely to the trees in the belief that an ailment would wither as the cloth decayed.
However, in recent years visitors have been tying hundreds of items including nappies, plastic cards, bras and even handcuffs to the branches of the trees, which stand near the Lia Fáil stone. Coins have also been hammered into the bark.
Although locals have made an effort to clean up the trees over the years, one fell recently.
John Farrelly, a member of the group, said: "The trees can't carry all this junk which gets heavier in rain and people have been hammering coins and penetrating their protective layer, leaving them open to poisoning from fungal diseases.
"Another fairy tree on the hill is also in bad condition and we have to act now to save the others."