(From L to R) Minister of State Andrew Doyle TD with Christy Kavanagh, Kavanaghs Christmas Trees).

Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine, Andrew Doyle T.D. has encouraged people to buy a real Irish Christmas tree this Christmas. The Minister was speaking on a visit to the Christmas tree farm of Christy Kavanagh in Newtownmountkennedy, Co. Wicklow. Christy has been in the Christmas tree business since 1980 following a family tradition that dates back to the 1950s and recently scooped two major awards at the recent Irish Christmas Tree Growers competition.

The Minister commented “Around 550,000 Irish Christmas trees are harvested each year with 350,000 sold at home and about 200,000 trees exported, mainly to the UK, France, and Germany. The industry contributes €21 million to the Irish economy. The professionalism and quality of the Irish Christmas tree sector are epitomised by farmers like Christy Kavanagh and Irish consumers can be assured that they are buying the best when buying from an Irish farm. Real Christmas trees are more environmentally friendly, carbon neutral and everyone who buys an Irish tree is contributing to providing jobs in rural Ireland. At home, we always have a real tree. It wouldn’t be the same Christmas experience without one.”

Christy Kavanagh is also the vice chair of the Irish Christmas Tree Growers Association whose “Love a Real Tree Campaign” is now in its’ third year. Christy explained that “the love a real tree campaign encourages consumers to purchase a real tree as opposed to an imported artificial tree. There is a wonderful opportunity to produce a superior product in this country and export to the U.K. and Europe, as ‘Noble fir’ grows better here than in any other part of Europe. In fact having seen the competition in Germany, Denmark, and Britain this year, our standards are far higher than all the rest and there is still room for improvement.”

The Minister concluded by saying “the quality of Christmas trees produced in Ireland has increased significantly over recent years. Much of this improvement has been driven by investments under my Department’s Scheme of Investment Aid for the Development of the Commercial Horticulture Sector. This assists growers who wish to make investments in specialised equipment to manage and harvest the crop.  While this is the busiest time of year for our Christmas tree growers I encourage them all to consider applying for the Scheme. A real tree is a natural choice. I am delighted to see a steady trend towards people buying real Christmas trees.”