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Horse Chestnut Tree

Updated: Apr 30, 2021

“For in the true nature of things, if we rightly consider, every green tree is far more glorious than if it were made of gold and silver.” Martin Luther

This is a beautiful Horse Chestnut tree that I planted in the back garden at the back of my house in Leitrim. I was 9 years of age and in third class and only learning about nature. I remember the day, over 22 years ago now, that I came across this lonesome conker in my neighbour Jon Regan’s farmyard. I picked up the conker full of curiosity and tucked it away safely in my trousers pocket. The following Monday when I went to school I showed it to my teacher, she told me what it was and I couldn’t believe a tree could grow from something so small. She helped me plant it in an old Flora Margarine butter tub I got from my mother. I watered it and watched it grow every day for a few months. I was mesmerised watching it break into a journey of its own. It represented everything in nature to me and the meaning of life and its journey. I loved to watch it every Spring spurt its sticky buds and then transform into amazing bright white delicate flowers covered in pink or yellow spots. I watched them transform into chestnuts or conkers as they slowly matured in the Autumn months.

You are probably wondering why does this tree mean so much to him? It is a simple tree?

It means so much to me because this tree grew up with me. It has always been there through everything and every season in my life. A fond childhood memory I have is playing Conkers. Even though this Horse Chestnut tree wouldn't produce conkers until about 50 years old I managed to pick a few up when I was out in nature with my dad. Conkers is great Craic to play, its where two players each get a conker and thread it on a piece of string, then take it in turns to hit each other’s conker, until there was one conker left. I loved to hear them crack off each other, it was the sound of the crack and trying to keep it up in the air ready for the next bash that made it tricky.


The tree had something for all to enjoy, including me! It was always a great tree to climb, unfortunately, I grew quicker than it and I’m obviously too big now. Its leaves always fascinated me having 5-7 palmate leaves spreading from its central stem. It was one of my first introductions to trees in nature and all their majesty. I would watch as the wildlife and insects came in droves to congregate around it. The hovering insects couldn’t get enough of the rich pollen from the flowers, particularly bees. Caterpillars loved its juicy leaves. The deer and other animals fed off its conkers as they lay to rest on the floor of the earth. My Horse Chestnut is only young in comparison to its 300-year-old relations. When it’s mature it can reach up to 40 meters in height. That’s a four-story tall building. I have to thank my father for keeping this memory alive for me. He looks after it well in our little garden when I am away in Galway.

I know this is a simple and short story but as they say ‘from little things big things grow’ (Paul Kelly). I often think about what it will look like in 300 years. I won’t be lucky enough to see it but whoever is, I hope they appreciate it and enjoy it as much as I do.

“For in the true nature of things, if we rightly consider, every green tree is far more glorious than if it were made of gold and silver.” Martin Luther

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