To those of us who have occasionally dipped in a couple of times over the years to lend a hand on tree collection day when available it was always a nice couple of hours spent on a brisk January morning, knocking on doors, collecting the tree and the envelope, noting the no answers, tree not ready yet or neighbours running to say can you take ours too and how much do we owe you. Add in 20000+ steps and it was always an energetic first Saturday of the year. Having assumed a committee role over the winter and joining the “Trees 24″ Whatsapp group I now know like any big day out the key is the preparation.

A meeting to see the group in action before Christmas resulted in getting responsibility for Area 1 (Secret Code). This then morphed into are you around on the 27th to put up some signs i( 76 Small, 18 Medium, 6 large)n the locality, then leave it a couple of days and send out a message to all the people on the list for Area 1 to let them know the key details Collection date, cost and Revolut details. There then followed about 10 frenetic days of text messages and whatsapps, revoluts, queries, spreadsheets to be updated. Where do we stop collecting? Is Dublin 4 too far for 1 tree etc.? The mastermind Gerry White as ever kept us on track noting what areas were in line with previous years, ahead of expectations or needed a nudge. Second and third messages were issued, stats were still being updated at 1 am and beyond on the Saturday morning of collection. Messages were issued far and wide looking for vans, trucks, trailers, cars with towbars for unattached trailers etc.

Saturday the 6th started early with a text message confirming scones and rolls had been delivered (An army marches on its stomach. Thanks Frank Basquel!). From first light the car park was a hive of activity as helping hands with transport and gloves came from far and wide to review the plan of attack and by 9am units were on their way to the 8 different areas. First panic was the recycle centre at the Speaker wouldn’t take vans. Each van/lorry had a driver, an admin person checking off the list and noting any non responses and at least one tree lifter and sometimes 2. On the ground these were supplemented by a battalion of foot soldiers working ahead rounding up trees whilst waiting for the vans to return from drop off.

Back at base Pauline White with Geraldine Molloy and CIara White had a large table of refreshments ready to feed the hungry masses as lunchtime approached. Catherine and Laura Nagle manned the main communications device (Gerrys phone) and relayed messages to the field noting new requests, non collections and general enquiries.

By early afternoon the back had been broken on this year’s mammoth task although such was the volume that the grab truck had to be supplemented by vans to get the mountain of Christmas trees out of the car park.

After dark messages continued to land with new requests, trees not collected, payments being made etc. Gerry and Gar did a number of runs on Sunday to collect another 60+ trees and there was final collections of the last stragglers on Monday.

A new record of 1929 trees was collected this year. This would not have happened without the incredible community effort well summed up by Ken Keary as ” …great community effort becoming more and more like a country club in the city.”

On behalf of the Camogie Section a massive thank you to all. This is the Camogie Sections big fundraiser that contributes to running the section for the year. By my numbers gathered from each of the area leads we had in excess of 100 helpers on the ground on January 6th with help from all sections in the club. Our leader Gerry White has confirmed that all contracts have been renewed for next year’s collection.

Tom O’Donoghue
Camogie Section Chair