Here in the West of Ireland, the Hawthorn tree (Whitethorn) is one of the most common native trees.
It dominates the wild hedge we are lucky to have at one side of our house, growing underneath the tall Ash trees we enjoy. Wild Strawberries, Lords and Ladies, Dog-violets and Primroses lie underneath.
Hawthorn shows in all its most beautiful glory during May, when its stunning white flowers brighten up our mornings at the kitchen table.
Under Brehon Law, the Hawthorn was one of seven “commoners of the wood”, alongside Alder, Willow, Rowan, Birch, Elm and Wild Cherry.
While Hawthorn would become widely planted in the later medieval hedgerows which still cover Ireland, the tree is also very much associated with the supernatural.
Occasional ‘fairy trees’ still dot the countryside, where people hang various garments and other items, in the hope of evoking help from the fairies for miscellaneous ailments or wishes. There is one such tree along the south side of Killary fjord.
You will also regularly see the hawthorn tree beside, or atop, a ‘holy well’, again reiterating its importance in terms of the Otherworld, in this case a christianised version thereof.
The hawthorn tree is one in a series of blogposts under the title of Thursday Trees.