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Ancient and well-travelled olive tree is the star of Skibbereen’s ‘edible’ roundabout

July 11th, 2020 7:05 AM

By Jackie Keogh

This magnificent olive tree is the centrepiece of the latest display at the top of North Street on the Cork Road roundabout supplied by Deelish Garden Centre. The ancient olive tree is 250 years old and is well travelled, coming from Italy, then Holland, where Noah and Maya Chase from Deelish found it. (Photo: Andrew Harris)

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DEELISH Garden Centre, with the support of Skibbereen Tidy Towns and Cork County Council, has created a ‘delicious’ roundabout with edible plants right in the middle of town.

The star attraction – a magnificent olive tree – was recently planted by Noah Chase of Deelish Garden Centre.

Noah explained to The Southern Star why he and his wife, Maya, decided to donate the 250-year-old tree after picking it out on a trip to Holland earlier this year.

It was originally sourced from northern Italy, so it is a well-travelled tree, but now its function will be to serve as a welcome to locals and visitors as they travel into the town centre from the Cork Road roundabout.

The project – which includes other edibles – is already attracting a lot of interest and goodwill because there is every indication that this is the oldest living tree in Skibbereen.

Noah said Deelish Garden Centre – which also ran a community clean-up initiative during lockdown – has been supplying olive trees of all sizes for many years. ‘As long as they have good drainage, olive trees can withstand cold temperatures and wind over the winter months. Indeed, last year, some of our trees even produced fruit.’

The appeal of the project can be found in the fact that olive trees are traditionally symbols of peace and friendship.

Noah pointed out: ‘It seemed like a particularly suitable choice as it welcomes people to Skibbereen.’

The symbolism does not end there. Noah confirmed that the large rope around the outside of the planting has been salvaged from Baltimore and represents West Cork’s connection to the sea.

The remainder of the plants at the roundabout will have a Mediterranean theme, too.

They will include some creeping rosemary, which is linked to Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and lavender, which is valued for its fragrance and healing properties.

Naturally, all of these plants can be used in cooking and this is seen as a celebration of the amazing food that is being produced in West Cork.

A Taste of West Cork Food Festival was cancelled this year due to the coronavirus, but by the time the 2021 event rolls around, Skibbereen’s first – possibly Ireland’s first – edible roundabout will not only have matured nicely, it could even have its own event in the programme.

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