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Wicklow News - 15th April 2008 (page 25)


"Back to his roots"

Tracing the origin of products is all the rage these days - from the meat on your table to the shoes on your feet. But one Irish company based near Baltinglass is offering a service that could be unique in the world.
William Bunbury's Timber Project grows, sources, conditions and supplies fully traceable homegrown Irish hardwood timber from sustainable resources, to furniture makers and woodworkers.

"'Wicklow is our second biggest customer base, after Dublin," says William, who set up the project in 2001 and uses trees from the estate at Lisnavagh House as his source material. "We are very fond of the woods here at Lisnavagh, so we only use trees that are dead, or have fallen, for our timber."

With his wife Emily, the couple offer a very special service to customers, whereby each piece of wood can be traced right back to the original tree, thanks to a combination of cataloging every fell, tagging and marking all the logs, and computerising all the records. William even takes a photograph of each tree so that every piece of wood which leaves the Project's gates can be linked with its 'parent'.

"We send a photograph of the original tree with each commission," says William, so you could have your kitchen counter top adorned with a picture of the tree the wood came from!
The print-out accompanying your log will tell you when and where exactly it was felled, why it was felled (rot, storm, etc) and a synopsis of that type of wood and its origins and uses.

The estate has yielded several types of wood for carver Bradley Richards from Kiltegan, to fashion kitchen cabinets, chopping boards, bowls, tables and a myriad other items in the on-site workshop. The Project, which is on the web at www.irishwoods.com, is fast gaining a reputation as one of the country's more eco-friendly and innovative businesses.

The company is based on the old farmyard in the Bunbury's estate, seven miles from Baltinglass, and shares the historic buildings with a number of artists and specialist companies. William is currently hoping to upgrade the existing building to a 6,000 sq ft premises, to house a purpose-built air-drying area for the wood, and a larger kiln for mechanical drying. At the moment, the excess wood is used by the Lisnavagh estate to fuel its own wood chip burners but is also sold to local carpenters and tradesmen.

"We offer a service whereby a carpenter can come in and look at the wood and choose whatever amount he wants, big or small. That is something that is not really offered anywhere else. Although we are expanding and getting bigger orders we don't want to exclude the small buyer either," says William.