BEST known for its sporting accolades, particularly GAA, Glenullin is set to be involved in an event which is far removed from the sporting normalities.

The common ground between the award and GAA is turf, as one of the area’s most famous landmarks has been nominated for a top award. The Woodland Trust is currently running a compeition for 'Tree of the Year' and the Hawthorn, or Fairy Tree as it is known locally, has been put in the hunt for the honour.

Local man Danny O'Kane nominated the tree, which dates back to the fifth century, for the prestigious award. The ancient attraction is cherished around the Glenullin area with some speculation that agricultural machinery no longer work the field in order to sustain the Hawthorn tree.

Situated in a rural setting between Garvagh and Dungiven lays the tranquil setting of Slaughaverty, which is a townland steeped in folklore as it is believed that there may in fact be a Ancient Elf buried in the ground below the Glen.

In the middle of a field in the townland, is an area known as the Giant's Grave which is believed to be the final resting place of Aburtach, an ancient Chieftan who ruled the area for many years. It is also rumoured that this very setting provided the ideology for Irish author Bram Stoker for his best seller, Dracula.

Local historian Dr. Bob Curran tells the intriguing story behind the peculiar planting. In an interview with The Chronicle, Bob said: “The tree is supposed to be very old and in the ground below a Chieftan known as Aburtach is buried there.

“Aburtach is believed to be a deformed character and was a tyrant in the area but he was deformed and rumour has it that he was also an accomplished magician who possessed super natural powers.

“The tyrant was despised in the area and a Chieftan, known as Cahan from a neighbouring Kingdom, was employed to kill Aburtach,” he said.

“Cahan succeded in killing Aburtach on two ocassions and buried Aburtach below the tree both times.

“He rose up again twice and demanded a bowl of blood from his subjects each time.”

These events are said to have taken place before the emergence of Christianity and the interesting tale concludes quite dramatically as the Coleraine man suggests.

“Cahan seeked help from a nearby Druid or early Saint as they were known but the information he obtained suggested that Aburtach could not be killed only immobilised due to the mysterious powers which he possessed.

“A sword made from Yew wood was used in order to immobilise Ancient Elf Aburtach before he was buried upside down below where the tree is situated today.

“The tree was not always there but thorns were scattered over Aburtach's grave and it was from this the tree emerged,” added Dr. Curran. Local superstition surrounds the story with many sceptical of visiting the area after dark but should the tree be crowned the winner we could see more people visiting Glenullin as they strive to solve the mystery of Aburtach.

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