2017 Festival Review

Archive of 2017 Festival 

Whiddy Island seaweed event 2017

The Ellen Hutchins Festival 2017 took place in Bantry, Glengarriff and Ballylickey as part of Heritage Week. The final event of the week was the wonderful Whiddy Island Seaweed Event with a huge attendance.









PDF of the Festival programme is available here and fuller listings are on this page (see below) and on the Heritage Week website (search for Hutchins). The theme of Heritage Week was Nature, which chimed brilliantly with the Ellen Hutchins Festival activities.

Below is the detailed programme, showing the events and exhibitions that took place. The Festival will be back in 2019 with a similar programme of events.

Three exhibitions:

Open Tuesdays to Saturdays, to Saturday 30th September 9:30am to 5:30pm Bantry Library, This was a two part exhibition, Seaweed Specimens and Letters: Drawings and Plant Stories.

On display was an information panel about Ellen and Drawings and Plant Stories with prints of watercolour drawings of seaweeds by Ellen Hutchins alongside photographs of plants named after her and information on plants she found.

The seaweed drawings were shown with the permission of Museums Sheffield.

Dwarf Willow, on summit of Knock Boy






Mondays to Saturdays, closed mid November.  9am to 6pm  Organico Cafe, Bantry, Exhibition

Drawing from Nature  Exhibition of beautiful plant and fruit drawings by contemporary botanical artist, Shevaun Doherty, with the highlight being Shevaun’s watercolour drawing of one of Ellen’s specimens from the Herbarium at Trinity College Dublin.
Discover the delights of botanical art – a practice spanning two centuries. See how it captures nature and creates art. Be amazed at the detail, and the time taken to produce one drawing.

This small exhibition linked to the one in Bantry Library. The enlargements of Ellen’s drawings were shown with the permission of Museums Sheffield. Exhibition and associated activities part funded by a Cork County Council arts grant. Free access, no booking needed.


Last day – Thursday 28th September, daily 9:30am to 5:30pm (6pm on Saturdays). The Casita, Garnish Island (Ilnacullin), Glengarriff Harbour

Ellen Hutchins Exhibition: the Young Woman, her Work and her World: an exhibition in the beautiful building in the Italian garden about Ireland’s first female botanist, telling the story of a remarkable young woman in words & pictures. It covered Ellen’s life story, her botanical achievements, her botanical art, and her deep friendship with botanist Dawson Turner through correspondence alone. Free exhibition. (First shown in Bantry Library, August to October 2015.) Normal ferry & entry fees to Garnish Island apply. 

For more information about the OPW-run Garnish Island (Ilnacullin), including entry fees and opening times see: http://www.heritageireland.ie/en/south-west/ilnacullin-garinishisland/




Saturday 19th August 2017

Introduction to mosses and liverworts in Glengarriff Woods. 10am to 12:30pm  An up-close introduction to our smallest plants with Dr Joanne Denyer (Irish Conservation Officer BBS) and a search for Hutchins’ Hollywort, a species discovered by Ellen.

Dr Joanne Denyer is one of Ireland’s foremost bryologists and won the National Biodiversity Data Centre’s ‘Distinguished Recorder Award’ in 2014 in recognition of her outstanding contribution to bryological recording in Ireland. This event may be of interest to older children but is not suitable for young children. Free event, no booking needed. Meet in the main car park, Glengarriff Woods.

Exploring the seaweeds on the Strand, Ardnagashel

Ardnagashel Walk 2pm to 4:30pm at Ardnagashel (Rent an Irish Cottage)  Four activities to enjoy at Ardnagashel, the Hutchins family home where Ellen died in 1815. Expert Irish botanists Howard Fox (National Botanic Gardens/OPW) and Maria Cullen will lead one session on lichens, and another on seaweed. Stereoscopes and compound microscopes will be available for close examination of botanical features.

Another team will lead a walk through the exotic and native trees in the Arboretum planted by Ellen’s brothers and their descendants. Madeline Hutchins will tell the story of Ellen Hutchins and the family at Ardnagashel. Free event, no booking needed. Access given by kind permission of Rent an Irish Cottage.

Botanical Art Demonstration by award winning artist, Shevaun Doherty, at Mannings Emporium, Ballylickey. 5pm to 6pm Free event, no booking needed, but you might like to book a table for Tapas there that evening afterwards. The Ellen Fest Team have already done so! www.manningsemporium.ie Tel: 027 50456

This event is funded by a Cork County Council Arts Grant.

Sunday 20th August 2017

Bantry House Gardens and Stables

Botanists in the Garden, 10:30 to 12:30 and 2pm to 4pm, with stereoscopes, compound microscopes and hand lenses for you to see the amazing world of lichens, mosses and tiny plants in close-up. Drop in sessions with Howard Fox (National Botanic Gardens/OPW) and Maria Cullen, leading Irish Botanists (with special interests in lichens and fungi) and Clare Heardman (National Parks and Wildlife Service) based in Glengarriff Woods. The botanists will explain and show the nature and beauty of some of the smallest plants in the gardens. Access to the gardens is free (for Heritage Week). Free event, no booking needed.

Ellen Hutchins Pop Up Exhibition 2pm-4pm in the Stables, Bantry House. A fascinating selection of letters, books, documents, and photographs that illustrate the story of the remarkable young botanist from Ballylickey. Madeline Hutchins, researcher on Ellen and her great great grand niece, will be on hand to show the Hutchins family collection of books that belonged to Ellen, letters she wrote to her brothers explaining her botanizing, other documents from uncovering Ellen’s story and photos of the Hutchins family at Ballylickey and Ardnagashel. Free event, no booking needed.

50 Shades of Green: Botanical Art Workshop with Shevaun Doherty 10am to 4pm in the Gardens and Stables of Bantry House. Learn how to bring your leaves to life in watercolour. This beginner friendly class will take you through the process of drawing and painting leaves, and teach you how to mix the perfect shade of green in watercolour using a limited palette.

Price €50 Paper and paints supplied. All levels welcome. Booking required: Email shevaun.doherty@gmail.com Some places still available. €10 deposit required. Children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult.

One of two linked one-day workshops run by Shevaun Doherty. A few places are available for Sunday’s workshop and Monday’s.

Monday 21st August 2017

Clare Heardman (National Parks and Wildlife Service) will lead the Coorycommane Loop Walk  10am to 12:30pm 5km walk, in the footsteps of Ellen Hutchins. See plants and look out over the stretch of Bantry Bay coast that Ellen lived on and the wild landscapes that she knew so well.

Free event, no booking required. Rough underfoot, walking boots required. NO DOGS Meet Coomhola Bridge (see link for map and more information on this trail): http://www.irishtrails.ie/Trail/Coorycommane-Loop/864/

The Ellen Hutchins Pop Up Exhibition in the Casita on Garnish Island 2pm to 4pm. A special session at the week-long Ellen Hutchins Festival Exhibition (see entry above) with a pop-up expo of letters, books, documents and photos and Hutchins family members on hand to answer questions. Free event, no booking needed. Normal ferry cost to the island and fee for entry to the garden apply. More information on Garnish Island (Ilnacullin) see: http://www.heritageireland.ie/en/south-west/ilnacullin-garinishisland/

West Cork Coastal Cultures: a talk 8pm to 9:30pm In the Glengarriff Park Hotel, Glengarriff, by researcher Breda Moriarty from the Deep Maps Project, UCC. Exploring human responses to marine resources through literary, historical, archaeological and visual sources, using specific examples from Bantry Bay.

The aim of the Irish Research Council funded Deep Maps Project is to investigate the biological, cultural and historical context of the SW coast of Ireland, 1700-1920. The focus is on the rich maritime environment from Clonakilty to the tip of Beara, as it is shaped by sea and land and as it is imagined within 18th and 19th century cultural artifacts (including folklore, historical writing, literature and visual arts). Breda Moriarty is a full-time research assistant on the Deep Maps Project in UCC. Free event, no booking needed.

Vibrant Flowers: Botanical Art Workshop  with Shevaun Doherty. 10am to 4pm. In the Gardens and Stables of Bantry House. Learn how to capture the vibrant colours of flowers in watercolour. This class will teach you how to mix colours to create an array of lush hues, and simple watercolour techniques used by botanical artists to paint realistic flowers. 

Price €50 Paper and paints supplied. All levels welcome. Booking required: Email shevaun.doherty@gmail.com  €10 deposit required. Children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult.

Tuesday 22nd August 2017

Formal Opening by Sally McKenna of Drawing from Nature Exhibition at Organico Café, Bantry. 5pm to 6pm  Sally McKenna, food publisher, formally opens the exhibition of enlargements of seaweed drawings by Ellen Hutchins (1785-1815) and drawings by botanical artist, Shevaun Doherty. (See above). With a chance to meet and chat with Shevaun Doherty and members of the Hutchins family. Shevaun is an award-winning botanical artist based in Dublin. She paints every day, exhibiting both in Ireland and internationally. Exhibition and associated activities part funded by a Cork County Council arts grant. Free event, no booking needed. (Downstairs in the Cafe.)

Formal Opening of Ellen Hutchins: Seaweed Specimens and Letters Exhibition at Bantry Library by Eileen O’Shea, Bantry Development and Tourism. 7:30pm (see entry above for all week) followed by

Talk – Ellen Hutchins: Seaweed Stories  Bantry Library 8pm to 9:30pm  Find out about Ellen’s Trinity links and hear the intriguing stories behind the specimens and letters in an illustrated talk by Madeline Hutchins (researcher on Ellen and her great great grand niece) and Sean Moffatt (scriptwriter for RTE).
Hear the story of how Ellen prescribed botany by her doctor, and how she was  ‘set agoing’ on seaweeds by James Mackay when he visited Ballylickey in 1805, and the support she received from him in letters. How Mackay sent her specimens on to other specialist botanists across the U.K. and how her specimens and letters resurfaced in Trinity’s Herbarium and were exhibited for the first time there before this their home coming. Free event, no booking needed.


Thursday 24th August 2017

Two Children’s Nature Art and Games workshops in Glengarriff Woods10am to 12pm and repeated 2pm to 4pm Children’s arts-based outdoor activities eg creating flower impressions on cloth, making wood flower identification discs and a scavenger hunt. Suitable: 5 to 12-year-olds. Free events, but booking is needed. Contact clare.heardman@ahg.gov.ie or on 087 6781613 FULLY BOOKED

Saturday 26th August 2017

Botanical Art Demonstration, Traditional Music and Pop-up Exhibition at Future Forests, Kealkil. 2pm to 4pm Award-winning botanical artist, Shevaun Doherty, will be demonstrating her exquisite art skills live and talking about botanical art. In an exciting collaboration with the Masters of Tradition Festival, well known traditional musicians Mick O’Brien (uilleann pipes) and Caoimhin O Raghallaigh (fiddle) will be playing some tunes.

This is alongside the Ellen Hutchins Pop-Up Exhibition of letters, books and documents. Members of the Hutchins family will be on hand to answer questions. All activities are in the fantastic venue of the Future Forests garden centre. http://futureforests.net/ Free event, no booking needed.

The Art Demonstration is funded by a Cork County Council Arts Grant. The presence of the musicians is courtesy of West Cork Music.

Sunday 27th August 2017

A repeat of the hugely enjoyable Seaweed Event with Dr Susan Steele on Whiddy Island. Seaweeds Exploring the Shore 1:30pm to 4pm. An exciting and educational shoreline exploration, followed by identifying and  preserving seaweeds 1800s style. The event will follow in the footsteps of Ellen Hutchins with the enthusiastic expert Dr Susan Steele taking the group on an exploration of the wonderful diversity of the shore. Everyone will carefully collect a few specimens and bring them indoors to identify. Participants will get a chance to try and preserve their specimen 1800s-style by floating onto paper.

Ferries leave Bantry 11am and 1pm and return from Whiddy 4:15pm & 5:45pm. Cost: €6:50 return. Ferry: www.whiddyferry.com

The Bank House Bar on Whiddy serves food and drink.

Free event, but ferry must be paid for. No booking needed.


Festival Funding for the Ellen Hutchins Festival 2017 has been received from The Heritage Council, Fisheries Local Action Group South, National Parks & Wildlife Service, Cork County Council Amenity Grant and, for the Drawing from Nature Exhibition and associated activities from Cork County Council Arts Grant Scheme. Support has also been provided by Bantry Credit Union, West Cork Music, Office of Public Works & the National Botanic Gardens Glasnevin.