Irish hardwood forests were responsible for providing sanctuary and sustenance for the Irish population during some of the most turbulent periods of Irish history.
The security provided by the forests was also their undoing when in the 16th century, Queen Ann ordered a mass deforestation programme of Irish forests in order to teach the Irish a lesson and deprive them of one of the few places they could live in relative safety. During this period, Ireland was the breadbasket of the English Crown when it came to harvesting oak and Irish oak was revered throughout Europe for it's quality and was used extensively for building ships of the British Admiralty. Most of Ireland's ancient forests were destroyed during this period.
Thankfully a reforestation programme for broad leaf forests took place from the 18th century on and once again forests are starting to thrive. There's a very active wood turning community in Ireland making most of the fallen trees that become casualties during some of the wilder winters.