Mayor of Galway to launch 'See the Wood from the Trees' by GMIT lecturers (Tues 27 Nov)

Friday, November 23, 2018 Press Office
Press Release

Wood, whether living trees or felled timber, is celebrated in See The Wood From The Trees, a new book by GMIT Letterfrack lecturers, Dr Marion McGarry and Dermot O’Donovan, which will be formally launched at a reception in GMIT Galway on Tuesday, 27 November, by the Mayor of the City of Galway, Cllr Níall McNelis.

The book, published by Artisan House, documents the story of trees felled by storms in Áras an Uachtaráin and subsequently gifted by the President, Michael D Higgins, to GMIT Letterfrack, the National Centre for Excellence in Furniture Design and Technology. The Letterfrack campus is recognised nationally and internationally for its excellent degree programmes in furniture design, wood technology and teacher education as well as the innovation and skills of its students, staff and graduates. Award-winning Artisan House has created a book that reflects the ethos of excellence and design while also acknowledging the dignity and status of Arás an Uachtaráin.

All aspects of the publication, written text, photography, imagery, reproduction, design, binding and finishing, demonstrates the highest attention to detail. Even the paper used throughout is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification quality, obtained from a sustainable and ethical source.

Dr McGarry, an art historian and lecturer and Mr O’Donovan, Head of Centre in GMIT Letterfrack, have first-hand knowledge of the story from the receipt of the gifted wood, its subsequent processing and drying, development of student project briefs and ultimate creation of wooden artefacts and furniture from the wood. It is an inspiring story that celebrates sustainability, creativity and beauty. 

A thoughtful and eloquent foreword is provided by Michael D Higgins, President of Ireland. He instigated the project by his simple but inspired gesture to gift the felled trees to a furniture and design college to enhance the studies of students and staff. A longstanding supporter of developments in Letterfrack, the President’s thoughtful foreword speaks of the connection between Áras an Uachtaráin and Letterfrack as ‘one founded on innovation and artistic vision’ and recalls that ‘beautifully designed pieces of furniture, created by students and graduates of GMIT Letterfrack are now an integral part of the Áras.’

Dermot O’Donovan and Dr Marion McGarry, authors, say: “When the opportunity arose to work with trees from the Áras, we literally grabbed it with both hands. These trees had been planted more than 200 years ago, overseeing the establishment of the State and the inauguration of all nine presidents of Ireland. Trees are such an important part of our lives and the wood from these trees held memories of our past and an imbued sense of our culture. To have them available for use by our staff and students was extraordinary and a real privilege. One of the projects the students created was an outdoor community trail so that everyone visiting the campus at Letterfrack could learn more about these trees. Working with Artisan House, who have previously won international design and publication awards, was a great experience and we are delighted to have the whole story captured in this beautiful publication”. 

Artisan House publishers Vincent Murphy says: “It was a privilege to work on this book and to bring it to the public. We are neighbours of GMIT Letterfrack and are familiar with their commitment to high standards in design and production which reflects our values in Artisan House”.

Architect and broadcaster, Duncan Stewart, who also contributed to the book, uses the opportunity to alert us to the urgent need for planting more trees to counter climate change while poet, while Theo Dorgan, another contributor, provides a beautiful series of quatrains noting the close connection of our ancestors with their trees. Irish Gaelic alphabet has 18 letters and by ancient tradition, each letter of the alphabet is associated with a particular tree, A for Ailm (Pine), B for Beith (Birch), etc.

The book is available in Regular Hardback with Gloss laminated cover and as a Special Limited Edition Hardback with 8-page gatefold of graduate furniture pieces with soft touch laminate cover.  There is also a Deluxe Collector’s edition which has a presentation box made from the felled ash from the Arás. This box was designed by Vincent Murphy with Paul Leamy of GMIT Letterfrack.  Only 15 of those very beautiful Deluxe editions are available.