This ancient yew tree on the grounds of St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, known as the Silken Thomas tree, is thought by some to be the oldest tree in Ireland.
It is difficult to estimate the age of a living tree, but measurements of the girth of the tree’s trunk suggest that it could be up to 800 years old. Legend has it that Silken Thomas sat under this tree playing the lute the night before he surrendered to King Henry VIII.
According to Irish lore, yew trees have magical properties. They are highly poisonous and can kill animals that eat their leaves and berries, but the poison, taxol, is an agent used nowadays to treat some forms of cancer.