Northern Ireland

Dark Hedges: Tree falls on to road near Armoy

The tree fell onto the Bregagh Road near Armoy on Tuesday night Image copyright Kevin McAuley
Image caption The tree fell onto the Bregagh Road near Armoy on Tuesday night

One of the renowned trees which features in Game of Thrones has fallen on to the road near Armoy, County Antrim.

It fell onto the Bregagh Road on Tuesday night.

The tunnel of trees, known as the Dark Hedges, became famous throughout the world after it featured as the Kingsroad in the HBO series.

In January, a number of the 200-year-old beeches fell victim to Storm Gertrude.

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Media captionSteve McCartney from Causeway Coast and Glens Council explains why the tree fell down

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.

Originally, there were about 150 trees, but time has taken its toll and now only about 90 remain.

Image caption Tourists pass the fallen tree at the Dark Hedges on Wednesday

Steve McCartney, from Causeway Coast and Glens Council, said that weather conditions and the age of the tree had caused it to fall.

"What's happened here has been very simple, there's been a bit of wind overnight and this tree has had a fork and inside that fork a bit of water has gathered - something we couldn't have seen was that that gave rot inside the tree," he said.

"A point of weakness and unfortunately that big branch came down."

Image caption The Dark Hedges have been made famous in the HBO series Game of Thrones

He said the volume of tourism at the site was unlikely to have contributed to it.

"Most of the nutrients that this tree and the other trees will get are from the trees on either side of the road, so the traffic on the road probably isn't as major a factor as we might expect," he said.

"Really when they get to this age, they are starting to wind down."

Image caption Experts say the tree's age and recent weather conditions were to blame for it falling

North Antrim assembly member Mervyn Storey, who is chairman of the Dark Hedges Preservation Trust, said a number of trees had been lost in recent years due to their age and weather conditions.

"There's been ongoing discussions between the Causeway Coast and Glens Council, Transport NI, the Tourist Board, the [National] Trust and other interested parties to ensure that we have a comprehensive plan for this area," he said.

Image caption A number of Dark Hedges trees have fallen in recent years

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