If you are into trees or if horticulture is your thing then Kilmacurragh is probably already in your letter to Santa. However, this book, written by Megan O’Beirne, is much more than the story of some of Ireland’s champion trees and equally marvellous and exquisite plant samples from exotic parts of the world. It is the story of the place they are nurtured in and the fascinating characters that made Kilmacurragh a world-enviable arboretum and a jewel of Ireland’s botanical treasures.
It is such a rewarding read, helped by O’Beirne’s enchanting and informative storytelling capabilities, that the pages turn by themselves. In parts, one is caught one minute by the endeavours of plant hunters and in the next by the very history of Ireland. This ranges from the brutality of Cromwell through to the Famine and the roles the former owners played in our history – albeit from their “colonial bubble”, as Megan describes it.