Ireland 2019: The Dark Hedges

The Dark Hedges are some of the most photographed trees in Northern Ireland. They can be found in County Antrim about halfway between Ballymoney on the A26 road and Ballycastle on the north Antrim coast. The nearest villages to the Dark Hedges are Armoy and Stranocum.

The Dark Hedges are so called because their interlocking branches keep out the sunlight.

Click on any photo to see a larger version of that photo.

In Episode 1, season 2 of Game of Thrones Arya Stark flees King’s Landing and rides through the Dark Hedges transformed into Kingsroad on her way to join the Night’s Watch. Tourists have flocked to the hedges ever since that first episode of season 2 was aired.

Geraldine takes my picture while I take hers. That’s my wife and our daughter Debbie’s family to her left.

It’s about 9 miles to the Dark Hedges from the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge car park via Ballonlea Road. Some people might prefer to drive eastward to Ballycaste and then take the A44 road to Armoy. That route is about 11.5 miles.

Beech trees have shallow roots that can be damaged from cars parking too close.

The line of trees takes up about 0.6 miles along Bregagh Road near the Hedges Hotel.

Many of the trees were pruned for public safety in 2014.

The Stuart family planted 150 beech trees lining the roadway to their Gracehill House mansion (named after James Stuart’s wife Grace) in 1775, 244 years ago. There are about 90 trees left. The average beech tree has a life of about 250 years (some say 200, some say 300).

It takes about 40 years for a beech tree to mature.

It looks like a car recently parked pretty close to these two trees.

Storm Gertrude in 2016 destroyed two trees and damaged another. Storm Doris downed another tree in February 2017. Another tree was toppled by Storm Hector in June 2018 and one more tree fell in a storm in January of this year. One of the recent trees fell over the road and had to cut up with chain saws and moved away with heavy machinery. The tree from this January fell into a field and is still there.

The tree that fell last January.

Another view of the fallen giant.

Still another view,

Last February it was reported that the owner of the field wanted to auction off the tree to the highest bidder. I guess no one bid.

One of many damaged trees.

From Wikipedia: “According to legend, the hedges are visited by a ghost called the Grey Lady, who travels the road and flits across it from tree to tree. She is claimed to be either the spirit of James Stuart’s daughter (named “Cross Peggy”) or one of the house’s maids who died mysteriously, or a spirit from an abandoned graveyard beneath the fields, who on Halloween is joined on her visitation by other spirits from the graveyard.”

A couple of the trees are reflected in a puddle from a recent rain.

For the last couple of years it has been against the law to drive down Bregagh Road but that hasn’t stopped a lot of people. We saw several cars drive past us when we were there.

My granddaughter Claire is on the right. Her father and sister are further down the road. Shame on Ryan and Paige for defacing the tree right above Claire’s head!

Some spaces in the row from downed trees allow one to see an almost perfect dome!

Sophie likes this sign.

View from between the trees.

Claire found a seat.

People wearing red clothing sure stand out!

Another view of another field.

Where did everybody go? This was my last shot and I finally got a picture of the hedges without any people!

We planted a beech tree in our front yard 46 years ago. I guess one of my descendants will have to think about replacing it in 200 years!

After our visit to the Dark Hedges we drove back to Belfast and had dinner with Geraldine’s sister Siobhan and her family. I will have more about our evening with Siobhan, her husband Adrian and their children in my next posting.

Bonus — The Music of Ireland:  Memory of Trees by Enya

Enya’s full name is Eithne Pádraigín Ní Bhraonáin (anglicized as Enya Patricia Brennan).
She is famous for her New Age music and is the # 1 Irish record seller. Enya wrote two songs for the Lord of The Rings trilogy. May it Be is the theme from LOTR # 1 — The Fellowship of the Rings. She sang her song while the credits were rolling at the end of the film. Enya also performed May it Be at the 74th Academy Awards in 2002. She came out with Memory of Trees, her fourth record album, in 1995.


About crowcanyonjournal

I am a family man with interests in family history, photography, history and travel.
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13 Responses to Ireland 2019: The Dark Hedges

  1. kzmcb says:

    Fabulous shots and history.

  2. Peter Klopp says:

    On a sunny summer day the dark hedges would be a welcome refuge from the heat. Great photographs, my friend!

  3. disperser says:

    Boy, what I wouldn’t give to carve my initials on those; got me a knife and everything.

    They are impressive.

  4. absolutely wonderful but you know I love Ireland!

  5. Pingback: Ireland 2019: The Titanic Museum | Crow Canyon Journal

  6. Pingback: Ireland 2019: Our Game of Thrones Tour, Part One — Strangford Lough | Crow Canyon Journal

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