A group of excited children, together with their families and teachers gathered in Ards Friary on Saturday afternoon for the opening of the exhibition ”Ogham, the healing language of the trees.”
The exhibition features work produced by 127 children from six local primary schools in response to an invitation from the Raphoe Diocesan Justice and Peace Committee to discover more about the beauty and importance of our native trees.
The opening coincided with the Christian Season of Creation, which celebrates the beauty of creation, while raising awareness of what is happening to our planet.
The afternoon opened with a question, Can you imagine what our world would be like without trees?” We couldn’t breathe “ was the immediate answer, “the trees give us oxygen”.
In his opening address, Fr Philip Baxter, reminded us to appreciate the beauty in the everyday, in the trees around us.
Cait Ni Bhuirenin, Principal of SN Ballymore spoke of the great enthusiasm her pupils showed in working on their paintings for the exhibition. How they each chose a particular tree with meaning for them and put such great care and attention into getting colours and details just right.
Three of the children then shared how they chose the trees they painted.
Maire Ni Bhroin, of SN Gort a Choirce talked of her school’s experiences of the project last year, describing it as a wonderful learning experience for herself and her class.
Myraim Rommers Mac Cionnaith, of the Justice and Peace group reminded everyone of their power to help the environment. As renowned botanist and last ward of the Brehon laws, Diana Beresford Kroeger has said, if each person can plant five trees over the next five years, it can have a huge impact on climate change.
The UN has designated this decade from 2021 to 2030 as the decade on ecosystem restoration. Restoring a trillion trees worldwide in this time would reduce global temperatures by 1 degree C and have a massive impact on tackling climate change.
Bishop McGuckian was also present for the opening and commended all involved for their efforts, while hoping the project can continue to grow.
Lastly, Oksana, a Ukrainian lady who volunteered to help with the setup of the exhibition spoke briefly, saying how pleased she was to be involved with the exhibition, and how peaceful and calming the surroundings of Ards were.
Two of the children present then cut the ribbon to open the exhibition. All the guests proceeded to view and enjoy the great creativity and imagination on display.
The exhibition continues until 7 November. Copies of the booklet “Ogham, the healing language of the trees”, are available to purchase for €5.
Schools involved are Ballymore NS, SN Oilibhear Pluincead, Rann na Feirste, SN Naomh Dubhtnach, Machaire Rabhartaigh, SN Holy Trinity Dunfanaghy, SN Cnoc na Naomh, Doire Chonaire and SN Caiseal na gCorr, Gort a Chiorce .