Tag Archives: Events

Exhibition Open in Boole Library, UCC, Cork

Monday 15th October, 6pm was the Opening of the Ellen Hutchins, Ireland’s First Female Botanist Exhibition.

The exhibition was opened by Astrid Wingler, Professor of Plant Biology
Head of Plant Science, School of Biological, Earth & Environmental Sciences and Environmental Research Institute,  University College Cork.

Carrie O’Flynn, the Historical Re-enactor featured on the poster (see above) was there in costume.

The exhibition has a selection of Ellen’s beautifully detailed watercolour drawings of seaweeds, her carefully prepared specimens, and her letters as well as objects and books that help to tell her story. The space features wonderful photographs of Bantry Bay, Glengarriff Woods and the special plants found in the area. You are invited to sit in a period chair and read some of Ellen’s letters. At a laboratory table, you can look through a folder of Ellen’s specimens, and peer through a microscope or hand lens at some amazing lichens. There is a loop of short films, and a touch screen with further information.

Seaweed specimen collected by Ellen Hutchins, Bantry Bay

Discover the story of a remarkable young woman in Ballylickey, Bantry Bay, West Cork in the early 1800s. In eight years of botanising, cut short by her death aged 29, Ellen Hutchins discovered many new species, and made a significant contribution to the understanding of native Irish non flowering plants – seaweeds, lichens, mosses and liverworts.

Festival: displays continue in Bantry and Kealkil

The third annual Ellen Hutchins Festival took place in Bantry and the surrounding area as part of Heritage Week in August.

As a legacy from the Festival, there are now two permanent displays about Ellen. One is in the Tourist Office, Bantry, which is open on Fridays through the winter, and the other is in the magical wooden building at Future Forests, Kealkil. For more information about this one see the Ellen’s Treasures page in the menu above.



Ellen in Dublin: exhibition in the Botany Department, Trinity College

Celebrating Ellen Hutchins: Trinity College Dublin

The Ellen Hutchins exhibition in Trinity College Dublin has now closed. On display were some wonderful specimens of seaweed that Ellen collected in Bantry Bay over two hundred years ago. These are held in the Herbarium at Trinity, and are on display here for the first time ever. Alongside the specimens were letters Ellen wrote to botanist James Mackay at Trinity and ones written by her to her brothers, telling them of her success in botany. There were prints of Ellen’s drawings of seaweed and panels telling her story in words and pictures.

Shevaun Doherty making a start on the drawing of one of Ellen’s specimens from the Herbarium.

The big draw on the final Thursday was the added delight of being able to join award-winning botanical artist Shevaun Doherty as she demonstrated the beauty of botanical painting. Shevaun was painting one of Ellen’s specimens. This was a very special end to the exhibition Celebrating Ellen Hutchins.

See here for more information and images.


Hidden Heritage Award and More Events in August 2016

The Heritage Council has announced its Awards, ‘showcasing the best of National Heritage Week 2015 and recognising the fantastic work of all the event organisers and volunteers that take part’.

We are delighted that the Ellen Hutchins Festival has been given the Hidden Heritage Award. The Heritage Council says: ‘This award shines a light on Ireland’s hidden heritage and was open to event organisers who successfully explored lesser known aspects of Ireland’s heritage during National Heritage Week.’

The Award will be presented at a ceremony in Kilkenny in April 2016. Click here for more on the Awards on the Heritage Council website.

The three Ellen Hutchins Festival 2015 organisers met last week (November 2015) in Mannings Emporium, Ballylickey, and decided that there will be Ellen Hutchins events in the Bantry area again in Heritage Week, 20-28 August 2016.

The income from the sale of the Limited Edition Prints of Ellen’s seaweed drawing will help fund the events in 2016. Click here for information on the prints for sale.

Looking for Ellen’s specimens in Trinity College Dublin and a Homecoming for her seaweed drawings.

Earlier this year, Professor John Parnell of the Botany Department of Trinity College Dublin helped a small team of Ellen Hutchins researchers to hunt in the Herbarium there for specimens of seaweeds, mosses, or lichens collected by Ellen in the Bantry Bay area more than 200 years ago.

The story of the search for them is told by scriptwriter Sean Moffatt in a piece he wrote for RTE’s Sunday Miscellany programme.  It was first broadcast on Sunday 16th August 2015, and repeated the following Wednesday. Click here for the link to listen to it; there is a short musical prelude and the piece itself is about eight minutes long.

Here are the pictures that go with the search:

Trinity College Dublin today.

Trinity College Dublin

TCD 01

Sean Moffatt searching drawers full of small brown envelopes

Bantry Bay Sketch

A 19th century sketch of the hills, forests and inlets of Bantry Bay by Ellen’s niece, Louisa Hutchins


TCD 023

Herbarium corridor; TCD

TCD 027

Prof John Parnell searching the herbarium

TCD 030

On the top rung

TCD 031

Regrouped with large folder on small table

TCD 028

Specimen of Fucus sanguineus (Delesseria sanguinea); collected by Ellen Hutchins, Bantry Bay over 200 years ago

TCD 033

Sean is transfixed as more of Ellen’s specimens come to light

Specimens at TCD 163

Conferva stricta 1809

Conferva Brodiae

Conferva Brodiae

Polysiphonia Sp 1809

Polysiphonia Sp 1809

The Sunday Miscellany piece ends with Sean Moffatt describing the homecoming of Ellen’s drawings for an exhibition in Bantry House.

With wonderful synchronicity, the broadcast went out as Madeline and her husband Sean were driving over from England to Ireland, with the prints of the seaweed drawings from the Archives of Kew Gardens in the back of their car; all mounted, framed and labelled, ready to be hung in the Upper Landing gallery space at Bantry House, for their first ever showing in the Republic of Ireland. They were crossing the Severn Bridge at that moment, from England to Wales, with coast and seaweed below.

One of the Festival Organisers kindly emailed Madeline and Sean the link to the broadcast, and they listened to the Sunday Miscellany piece as the ferry pulled out of Pembroke Dock. Just as the piece finished, they saw, right in front of them, a pod of dolphins swimming alongside the ferry. It all felt very special.

And that special feeling continued throughout the Ellen Hutchins Festival. The organisers were pleasantly surprised by the large number of people attending all events, both locals and those who had travelled great distances; and the level of interest shown in Ellen was inspiring and gratifying. The view from the summit of Knockboy in the sunshine was spectacular. The children made splendid journey sticks and woven wonders in Glengarriff Woods. The botanist Donal Sinnott’s talk was captivating, showing how Ellen dried and laid out her specimens, the sort of microscope she would have used, and other fascinating details.  The scientific knowledge of the botanists brought a new dimension to the walks, and the botanical art demonstration was delightful. Every time the events were outside, the rain stopped and often the sun came out. As if to provide a perfect ending to the Festival week, on the final evening before the journey home, there was a stunning sunset over Bantry Bay.


Bantry House Gardens overlooking Bantry Bay

Bantry House Gardens, looking out over Bantry Bay


Madeline unpacking prints of Ellen’s drawings in Bantry House. 18 August 2015

The prints grouped ready for hanging

The prints grouped ready for hanging


The Exhibition is ready 19 Aug 2015


The Official Opening and Botanical Art Demonstration by Shevaun Doherty


Stunning sunset over the bay at the end of the festival; caught by John Crellin of FloralImages Brecon

Madeline Hutchins: great great grandniece of Ellen Hutchins, researcher on her life, and one of the organisers of the Ellen Hutchins Festival, Bantry, Heritage Week, August 2015