As Games of Thrones returns, artists work on Derry’s own ‘weirwood’-like tree

As fans gear up for Season Seven of Game of Thrones, Derry is to get its own public art work resembling one of the show’s ‘weirwood’ tree.

Specialist wood sculptors were today carving faces into an old tree in the Belmont area of the city, with a different ‘Bran’ - a figure from ancient Irish mythology with local connections- among the characters set to feature.

The artists working on the tree in the Belmont area.

The artists working on the tree in the Belmont area.

The Housing Executive project was developed after it emerged that the old tree, located along the busy Racecourse Road, was dying.

It was subsequently decided to strip back the bark and create a public sculpture for the area, and specialist artists have been commissioned to create the art piece.

A Housing Executive spokesperson told the Journal: “The Housing Executive is funding the sculpting of a tree in the Belmont area.

“Our grounds maintenance team was approached by a local resident who suggested turning the tree into a sculpture rather than cutting it down.

“Local sculptor Jim Hughes came up with the idea of carving a Celtic sun god out of the tree stump. He is currently busy working on sculpture.”

It is hoped that the finished sculpture will be ready by early August.

It will feature male and female characters from Celtic mythology including Bran Mac Febail (son of Foyle), whose father Febail (Foyle), some stories suggest, was king of the rich “flowering plain” which existed before Lough Foyle flooded into the area.
Bran’s name is also linked to Stroove Head (Raven’s Beak) at the mouth of the Lough in Inishowen.

His territory was in the same area as that of the sea god Manannan Mac Lir, who in one ancient story converses with Bran.

There have been several striking tree sculptures previously created across the city, including at St Paul’s Primary School in Galliagh and St Patrick’s Primary School, Pennyburn and at St Columb’s Park and Learmount Forest.

In Game of Thrones one of the main characters, Bran Stark, harnesses his special powers by touching the sacred weirwood trees, which are revered ancient trees with faces carved into them.