Ireland’s Rainforests



The Disappointed Tourist: Ireland’s Rainforests, Ellen Harvey, 2021. Oil and acrylic on Gessoboard, 18 x 24″ (46 x 61 cm). Photograph: Etienne Frossard.

According to the Irish Agriculture and Development Authority, until 6,000 years ago when the first Neolithic farmers arrived in Ireland, the island was almost completely covered with forest. These farmers cleared the land and over the next 3,500 years, the resulting layers of dead vegetation formed the bogs for which Ireland is now known. By 1600, less than 2% of Ireland was covered with trees. This fell even further to 1% at the end of the 19th Century. At present, Ireland’s forest cover has increased to 11% as a result of Government support for tree planting. This painting is inspired by a photograph by Ray O’Foghlu, Farm Programmes Coordinator at Hometree (a charity that works to establish and conserve permanent native woodland in Ireland) that accompanied an article by Manchán Magan about the Atlantic Rainforest published in The Irish Times on January 22, 2022.

I miss it, like we’ve lost part of our souls. I want us to remember Ireland’s lost forests. It might be what helps us create a future. Katie H.