Northern Ireland

Dark Hedges: Game of Thrones tree victim of Storm Doris

Dark Hedges tree Image copyright Paul Morgan
Image caption The avenue originally comprised about 150 of the beech trees, which were planted more than 200 years ago

One of the tunnel of trees that make up the Dark Hedges - made famous by Game of Thrones - has fallen victim to Storm Doris.

The trees, near Armoy in County Antrim, became famous throughout the world after they featured as the Kings Road in the HBO series.

There were originally about 150 of the beech trees, which were planted more than 200 years ago.

However, time has taken its toll and now only about 90 remain.

One came down overnight as Storm Doris swept across Northern Ireland.

A number of other roads have been blocked by trees in Northern Ireland and thousands of people lost their electricity supply.

"It's sad but we have to recognise the trees were planted in the late 1700s, so they're approaching 200 or 250 years old," said Patrick Craig of the Dark Hedges Preservation Trust.

"Beech trees are particularly vulnerable to coming down very suddenly."

It is not the first time the trees have been hit by storms. In January last year a number of them fell victim to Storm Gertrude. while another came down in July.

Image caption The trees were planted by the Stuart family along the entrance to their Gracehill House mansion

Mr Craig said steps have been taken to preserve the iconic site.

"We had a remedial programme in place doing some pruning so, where there were dead limbs and stuff, we've had those removed and that actually assists the tree and gives it an extra lease of life," he said.

"The intention is, as trees come down, to actually replant with beech trees.

"That's really looking to the future so that future generations will enjoy what we enjoy."

Visitors from around the world

The trees were planted by the Stuart family along the entrance to their Gracehill House mansion.

Over the decades, the branches grew over the road and became entangled and intertwined, creating a covered passageway with something of an ethereal feel.

Mr Craig said the tree that came down was being removed so tourists, hundreds of whom visit the site each week, could do so on Thursday.

"It's sad because they are iconic trees, the whole association with the Game of Thrones has meant that they are a must visit for visitors to Northern Ireland." he said.

"No matter what day of the week, you'll find people from right around the world who come to enjoy them."

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