Play Hard at the Christmas Tree Throwing Championship


Joe O'Connor, Ennis taking part in the Irish Christmas Tree Throwing Championship in aid of the ISPCC at Active Ennis Tim Smyth Park, Ennis, Co. Clare on Sunday. Photograph by Eamon Ward

By Nicole Buckler

What qualifies as a sport these days gets more interesting as the years go by. Is chess a sport? Is playing bridge a sport? Bog snorkelling? Stealing an ATM out of the wall? All I know is that THIS sport should be held at Olympic level. Yes, general civilians are being asked to attempt to break a Guinness world record… in Christmas tree hurling. The Christmas Tree Throwing Championship is getting quite the following from overly excited and slightly sweaty people who are looking to relieve the boredom of the Santa season. There’s only so much turkey a person can stand before wanting to break out of the house and throw a now-dead tree across a green. Just try to not impale a judge or a granny that can’t move away fast enough and you’ll do fine.

The Championship is based on age-old lumberjack traditions and is commonplace across Germany and Austria. And seeing as we stole the Christmas tree tradition from those dudes anyway we may as well follow up with their customs of tree disposal.  Members of the public (i.e. you… don’t fight it) will chuck a 1.5-metre tree as far as they can without breaking their spleen. There are no extra points if you get a bonus hospital admission.

2014 winner Gary O’Growney from Dublin and 2013/2015 winner John O’Dea from Limerick share the Irish Record. Both competitors threw their trees a distance of 10.2 metres, which is just under 2 metres short of the World Record currently held by Klaus Pubnaz. With a name like  Klaus Pubnaz, you could not expect anything less than total excellence. He hurled a tree a distance of 12 metres at an event in Germany five years ago. At this juncture we also need to ask if any steroids were found in his system.

Last year’s Under 12 section was won by Shane Kenny from County Clare, while the Ladies section was won by Audrey Kavanagh (4.1m). So there you go, the underaged are welcome… anything that keeps you off Snapchat is fine by us. The womenfolk are also welcome, as long as we can convince them to leave their planning session for Women’s Little Christmas. And this takes some planning… they have to co-ordinate tea, sherry and wine. At the same time. Hurling a pine might not fit through any windows in the diary.

This year’s winner will receive the Irish Christmas Tree Throwing Championship trophy. Okay so it’s not international fame and fortune, BUT  proceeds raised will go to the West Clare Mini-Marathon Cancer Centre. So get sweaty and start smelling like pine floor cleaner for charity, you know you want to.

Organiser of the event Clare County Council also make wild promises to recycle the Christmas trees. But recycled into what? I have been told it is for “landscape projects”… probably for Grand Design posers. I’d rather they are used to make pine floor cleaner myself, the smell of pine always makes your house smell like a posh hotel lobby. And this is something to which we can all aspire.

The event has grown in popularity year on year since it was first held in 2012. Last year, more than 250 people had a go at becoming the latest Christmas Tree Throwing Champion. I think this event has the potential to be more popular than a rural funeral. So I certainly hope I don’t die on Christmas tree throwing day. I know my departure would be no match for flying trees.

The Irish Christmas Tree Throwing Championship takes place on Sunday, 3rd January 2016, between 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. at Active Ennis Tim Smyth Park, Ennis, Co. Clare. Be there or be square.



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