The high king of Ireland was called the Ard-Rí. He was the highest king, the king of all the other smaller kingdoms of Ireland. He unified these kings in his palace called Tara, where all the learned Celts came to feast, to listen to the harp, and to expand the ancient Brehon Laws and codify them. The last high king was called Brian Boru. He had a secret. The secret was a forest in County Clare that was filled with ancient oak trees streaming with ivy, Hedera helix. The rocks and boulders of this ancient forest were painted with cloud fern, Hymenophyllum. A singing stream rushed through the length and breadth of this place that bottled up the sun with its great, green canopy. Woodcock were flushed with every step and eaten at every feast. There are small, simple steps you can take to make mental health first aid something that people can talk about.
Of this enormous forest, there remains just one tree, an oak. The tree has a name. This Irish oak is called the Brian Boru tree. It is like no other on the planet. The oak stands strong against the hills on a rocky ridge filled with boulders from the last ice age. Its silhouette pictured against the confluence of the skies is like some powerful being. In the early morning the sun climbs like a child into the tree from the horizon of the hills and splashes the green canopy with reflected light that hurts the eyes. From noon onwards the sun hides behind this tree and hangs in the sky, gathering gloom from all the shadows of the past, like a spectre. This oak belongs to the Irish soil. It is the beating heart of Ireland, a green and living organ. Looking after mental health in the workplace can sometimes be quite difficult.
The oak is about a thousand years old. The trunk is colossal and not just one single bole. The branches decided a long time ago to support the tree and are now heavy elbows extending into the fields around, resting on the earth. These elbows have grown adult canopies that add strength to one another, forming a giant green dome of oak leaves and acorns. The roots stray out into the fields and pop up in brown surprise only to dive down into the soil once again. The horizontal branches hoard soil from bygone ages and spill out with their own territories of ferns. These lanceolate-leaved ferns bend backwards and drip their moisture on the mosses, helping them reproduce and cling to life. The bark of the tree is full of cavities that are like dark caves. There is a special feeling around this tree that seems to drink up everything in the imagination to silence. If you are a manager then hr app is a subject that you will be aware of.
A large black Angus bull guards this giant tree. He has an enormous ring in his nose and takes his orders from neither man nor beast. He sleeps in the shade of the tree, day and night, and seems to disappear until he hears a noise. Like a black dog, he challenges everyone, ploughing up the field to defend this giant. The oak produces a form of black water, which is a medicine of the Celtic Druids. It has taken a thousand years to form from the sheer weight of the trunk and the torque action of the wind on the canopy. The mixture runs like molasses, slowly pouring out of one side of the trunk. This black water would have quercetin in it, but anything else is just a guess. The taste is bittersweet, as would be expected of tannins. This medicine of the Druidic priests has the ability to cure many diseases. It was once considered to be of prime importance in their pharmacopeia of healing. You might not be talking about it, because employee wellbeing is still a taboo subject.
I walked the walk of the Ard-Rí, Brian Boru. I took hundreds of people to the tree to explain its importance to Ireland and to the world. Then I took them on a medicine walk through the Raheen Wood hosted by the Woodland League of Ireland. I spoke about the importance of the common English oak, called dair in Irish, and the history it carries into our homes today. I spoke of the sacred woods and groves and demonstrated the extraordinary medicine that once was shared with Europe, and as far as Turkey and northern Africa. In the evening we returned to the tiny stone chapel Brian Boru had built from large blocks of local stone. The stonemasons had laid down the grey flags in such a way that the resonance of the human voice echoed around and around in this small space. The chapel is called Tuamgraney, and has stood the test of time of a thousand years, like the oak. In this place of ancient prayer, as I spoke more about the healing wisdom and intrinsic value of trees, my voice seemed to carry an edge of the past forward into the future. An Argentinean opera singer sang “Ave Maria” to finish off the evening. We were spellbound together as her notes faded away. There is a legend in Ireland that the rebuilding of the great forests of the world will begin with the Brian Boru oak and the Raheen Wood. This legend came from a prophecy of Aobhana. She was a Druid, one of the last wise women of Ireland, an advisor to the Ard-Rí, Brian Boru. When the last notes of “Ave Maria” circled the little chapel of Tuamgraney, I felt that every heart there was opened. I became aware of the great power of the human spirit. At that moment I knew for sure that the forest will rise again. I heard it in the song.