ARDEE won the National Tidy Towns Tree Project Award last year and in recognition of this achievement the Tree Council of Ireland decided to launch National Tree Week 2012 in Ardee on Sunday.
It was a great honour for the mid-Louth town and for the county and President Michael D Higgins paid his first official visit to Ardee and Louth when he officially launched the conservation week.
“This is an award you can be very proud of,” he told the large gathering at the Fair Green which included members of Louth County Council, Ardee Town Council, Ardee Tidy Towns, Ardee Active Retirement and the Ardee Business and Traders Group.
President Higgins also congratulated Ardee on becoming Ireland’s first Age-Friendly town.
“You are creating a solidarity between the generations,” he said. And he praised the people of the town for taking a lead in the protection of the environment.
Our president is also a poet and he referred to many poets, Robert Frost, Rainer Maria Rilke, Robert Browning, Lady Gregory and the trees at Coole Park, and also spoke of his own native Clare where the townland takes its name from a native tree.
He said trees are part of our heritage and remind us of our own transient lives.
They are something that should be planted and preserved for they “contribute to our own well-being”.
Eanna Ni Lamhna, President of the Tree Council of Ireland, welcomed the President to Ardee and her own native parish of Stabannon “which is just up the road”.
She thanked the sponsors of National Tree Week, Bord Bia and Coilte, represented by Seamus Dunne and David Gunning.
She thanked Brendan Matthews and Ardee Tidy Towns, Miriam Clarke, Mary Dunne of Ardee Active Retirement, the children and teachers from the national schools and their hosts Louth County Council, represented by County Manager Conn Murray, Joe McGuinness Ardee Area Manager, Mary Murtagh and Clare O’Hagan.
Ruth Kelly sang the national anthem. The Ardee Concert Band were out in force, and, as usual, outstanding.
President Higgins planted an oak tree and children representing the four national schools: Monastery NS, Scoil Mhuire na Trocaire, Ardee Educate Together and Ballapousta NS also planted trees.
Sixty thousand trees are planted every day in this country and Ardee is playing a real part in all of that national conservation.