Ballylickey's Ellen features in book on historic Irish women

November 9th, 2019 11:55 AM

By Southern Star Team

Ellen Hutchins, above, is not very well known outside of West Cork.

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By Siobhán Cronin


A WEST Cork woman features in a new book on 21 Irish women from history.

Through Her Eyes – A new History of Ireland in 21 women, (right), by Cork journalist and author Clodagh Finn, helps readers remember the sometimes ‘forgotten women’ of Irish history, from the Stone Age to the present.

Told through the prism of the lives of the 21 extraordinary women, it offers an alternative vision of Irish history, one that puts the spotlight on women whose contributions have been forgotten or overlooked. 

From the oldest woman in Ireland, whose bones were found beneath the Poulnabrone Dolmen, to the modern-day founder of a 3D printing company, this book tells the stories of women whose lives were shaped by the centuries in which they lived. 

Illustrator Holly Ingram brings the women to life with her stunning sketches throughout the book.

Ellen Hutchins, who features in one of the chapters, was Ireland’s first female botanist. Her life is marked annually by a festival in her honour in Ballylickey, Glengarriff, Bantry and surrounds.

But for many people outside of West Cork, she is not very well known.

In the book, author Clodagh Finn tells the story of Ellen’s life at Ballylickey House on Bantry Bay. 

She returned home from school in Dublin in the early 1800s to care for her frail mother.

Ellen’s own doctor suggested she use botany as a means of recuperating after her own bout of ill-health. He thought it would be a good way for her to get outdoors and pursue something that wasn’t too strenuous.

Little did he know that she would become so well versed in the subject and such an authority on flowers and plants that today, 200 years later, we would still be talking about her and expert gardeners would study her discoveries.

But ill-health once more took hold of her and she died, just a month before turning 30, in 1815.  

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