This is the Autograph Tree, the copper beach into which Yeats, Shaw, Synge and others carved their initials at Lady Gregory’s former country estate.
The estate, located near Gort in Co. Galway, is today an immaculately-kept nature reserve (though sadly the house itself is long gone).
On a sunny day, the tree is an electric rusty-red. Stepping through the leaves, you can examine the trunk, picking out fading letters with the help of a numbered diagram. It’s a unique, organic connection with these literary giants, and it doesn’t cost a penny.
Details: Exit the M6 at Junction 17, 18 or 19, joining the N18 south. Coole Park (091 631804; coolepark.ie) is about 20km/12.5 miles in the direction of Gort.