Story of Cork botany pioneer to be brought to fresh audience

Story of Cork botany pioneer to be brought to fresh audience
Carrie O’Flynn, historical re-enactor, in costume of the early 1800s, on Whiddy Island, at the Ellen Hutchins Festival 2018

The story of Ellen Hutchins of Ballylickey, Ireland’s first female botanist, will be launched next week.

The story tells of a young woman who studied non-flowering plants such as seaweeds and mosses. In an eight-year period, before her ill health incapacitated her, she discovered a number of plants new to science and others new to Ireland.

Ellen was active from 1805 to 1813, on the shores of Bantry Bay, its islands; in the woods at Glengarriff; and on the mountains that surround the bay.

She was also a talented botanical artist, and a devoted daughter and sister, spending years looking after her mother and disabled brother, while suffering from poor health herself. Tragically, she died young, just before her 30th birthday.

The story of Ellen Hutchins and her connections with Cork and the male-dominated world of botany in the nineteenth century is one of the articles in the 2019 volume of the Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society.

Dr Mervyn O’Driscoll, Head of the School of History, University College Cork said: “The people of Cork city and county are indeed fortunate to be served by the Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society. The new issue contains an abundance of pioneering research on all aspects of the past. It illuminates life in all its richness in Cork down through the centuries. Anyone interested in heritage will value it.” The journal will be officially launched by Dr O’Driscoll, in Cork City Library, Grand Parade, on Thursday 31 October 2019, at 6.30pm. The event is free and open to members of the public.

The 2019 Journal of the Cork Historical & Archaeological Society will be available to purchase on the night.

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