‘Dragon of Bethesda’ causes traffic havoc in north Wales

A giant dragon carved from a fallen tree has been causing traffic chaos in north Wales as motorists slow down or stop to catch a glimpse of the sculpture.

The dragon, named Y Draig Dderw, Welsh for The Oak Dragon, looms out of the trees and foliage on the A5 near Tregarth, rearing its 12-foot wingspan and baring rows of sharp wooden teeth.

“There has already been one accident and numerous near misses on this section of road which really does require a drivers full concentration,” said North Wales Police in a statement posted to their Bangor and Bethesda Facebook page, urging drivers to find somewhere safe to park if they want to view the sculpture.

The 25ft beast called Y Draig Dderw, or The Oak Dragon, has proven to be a distraction for drivers (Simon O’Rourke Tree Carving/PA)

The 25-foot beast is the work of sculptor Simon O’Rourke, who spent nearly a week wielding a chainsaw to carve the dragon from a fallen oak branch at the request of the property owners.

Mr O’Rourke told the Press Association he had been “completely overwhelmed” by the response to the sculpture whose creation he documented on Facebook.

Videos of the “Dragon of Bethesda”, which he called it before its official naming, have been viewed thousands of times on his Facebook page.

Almost there! Just about to take the scaffold down and plug a few holes!!

Posted by Simon O'Rourke – Tree Carving on Saturday, January 19, 2019

Some online commentators compared it to the dragons of Skyrim, the award-winning fantasy computer game made by a developer coincidentally called Bethesda.

“It’s bigger and in a more public way than some of the other things,” said the 40-year-old who was born in Liverpool but now lives in Wrexham.

“The tree effectively fell in such a way that it was sticking out over the outcrop. I think it’s one of those things where, with the positioning of it, there’s no way it could have been moved as it’s too heavy and too big.”

The property owner, who did not respond to requests for comment, commissioned Mr O’Rourke to carve the huge branch into a dragon which was completed in mid-January.

Carved wooden dragon
Sculptor Simon O’Rourke as he starts work on carving the giant dragon (Simon O’Rourke Tree Carving/PA)

Since then it has been causing quite a stir on the narrow country roads.

Asked about how much of a distraction to motorists the dragon was causing, Mr O’Rourke said: “You drive through somewhere like Birmingham and you’ve got huge screens and billboards that are actually trying to distract you and catch your attention.

“A wooden dragon is less intrusive than those screens but I think it’s just the case that it doesn’t matter what happens, when you’re in control of the car you should be paying attention to the road.”

Simon O’Rourke spent six days carving the dragon out of a fallen branch using a chainsaw (Simon O’Rourke Tree Carving/PA)

North Wales Police said in a statement on their Facebook page: “We, like everyone else love the ‘Draig Dderw’ (oak Dragon) recently erected in the Bethesda area, however we are concerned at the impact upon road safety as a result of the action of a number of motorists who slow down or in some cases ‘stop’ to view the Dragon.

“There has already been one accident and numerous near misses on this section of road which really does require a drivers full concentration.

“Please concentrate on the road ahead at all times, if you want to view it, then please find somewhere safe to park (not on the A5) and walk down on the pavement. Please drive carefully.”