Over the years I have bought my Christmas tree from a variety of places, a shopping centre car park, from the scouts and from the side of a road. The experience at Glenealy Christmas Tree farm in Co. Wicklow is a whole other story. James Carroll and his brothers Dave and Andrew have created a really special experience on the plot of land they took over from Coillte a few years ago.
Just outside the tiny village of Glenealy there are about ten acres of randomly planted Noble and Nordmann Fir trees, where young and old can ramble between large overgrown trees and tiny two year old ones to find their perfect Christmas Tree. On arrival, James, who's furniture we have been stocking since 2010, welcomed us and introduced us to the three skittish Shropshire sheep (Sunday, Hazard and no.3) who are a new addition, hired to keep the grass tidy between the trees, as this particular breed has no interest in fir trees. We then went on a tour of the shed where we met James' brother Dave who offered to post our letters to Santa and gave us a bit of a tune on the old grand piano next to a model sleigh.
The highlight of the day was the stroll through the land, where James talked us through the wildlife that roams the land, a friendly fawn had eaten the bulk of the Willow he had planted earlier this year. The brothers have great plans for how to use the land outside of Christmas time - Easter egg hunts and Halloween hauntings are among the ideas currently being hashed out.
Delighted with our choice of tree, James swiftly cut it down, drilled it, wrapped it up, and stuck it in the back of the car. On the way out Deirdre, a neighbour of the Carroll's reminded us to take some of her holly with us in return for a donation towards one of the four charities she is supporting.
You can buy a selection of James' work in our shop on Drury Street.