I planted this Cedar of Lebanon tree in memory of my late wife Mary. She was of tremendous help to me over our 45 years together. She was my greatest supporter and she is a great loss in my life.
Reflecting back on my life, I remember my uncle who was a Cistercian Monk at Roscrea Abbey. He was the head gardener there and the person that led me to have such a love of nature when I was 12 years of age -he planted the seed in my mind that today has grown to over 50 acres of mixed forest here on my farm in Ballinderry.
When asked if I had any regrets about my life’s work I always reply yes I have two regrets: that I didn’t know more about trees as a teenager and that I didn’t plant twice as many. It is my firm belief that if young people could get an interest in nature and wildlife they will never be bored.
This man was ridiculed by his peers over the years when instead of rearing beef on his land he planted trees instead. When it was socially and economically un-acceptable to plant trees he planted 50 acres of what I believe is the most species-diverse woodland in Ireland-150 species of trees in all including 15 species of oaks.
But what really makes his forests so much different and special is the amount of walnut trees he planted. In the next 10 years or earlier they will start to produce walnuts. The consumer demands for walnuts makes this nut a great economic success. The wood from a walnut tree is also one of the world’s great furniture timbers and much sought after and financially very lucrative.
His work for the past 60 years has been to make a livelihood from nature by working with nature not against it. He has done so admirably and with his personal values system intact.
Not only is he is 100% sustained by the rainwater system he has installed but he is also self-sufficient in his heating and energy needs as a result of the massive amounts of fuelwood his forests are now producing on a sustained yield basis with ample supplies to sell to locals-thus another source of sustained income. He has made what he says (modestly) is a comfortable living off his 50 acres of diverse forests.
This is rural development in its purest and most sustainable form.
I am proposing that the whole concept of ‘sustainability’ done right can be economically, socially and environmentally rewarding. Matt Fogarty is now in his 81st year and lives in the North Tipperary area and still as passionate about trees as he was the first day he planted them.