By BRIAN MOORE
A HERITAGE trail to honour Ireland’s first female botanist, Ellen Hutchins, will soon be a reality for visitors and locals in Bantry.
And with the Ellen Hutchins Festival set for Heritage Week, August 19th to August 27th, the heritage trail will keep alive the memory of one of Ireland’s most famous botanists.
‘Ellen’s legacy is an important one, not just for West Cork, but nationally and even internationally,’ said Clare Heardman of the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
‘Ellen is widely recognised as Ireland’s first female botanist and was a pioneering scientist at a time when few women were engaged in serious scientific study,’ she added.
2017 will see the third annual Ellen Hutchins Festival taking place and there will be the now familiar mix of walks, talks, exhibitions and workshops. ‘We are delighted to announce that seaweed specimens that Ellen collected in Bantry Bay in the early 1800s will be making their first homecoming to Bantry,’ Clare added.
The Botany Department at Trinity has kindly given permission for the loan of some of these and they will be displayed in Bantry Library during the Festival.
With help from the Heritage Council of Ireland in the form of a €1,000 grant, plans for the Ellen Hutchins Heritage Trail are well underway.
‘The aim of the new project is the development of an engaging and educational multimedia trail using Ellen’s story to bring visitors to some of inner Bantry Bay’s best heritage sites in terms of botany, landscape and local history,’ Clare said.
‘There will be a series of stops from Bantry to Adrigole, representing different parts of Ellen’s story, from her birth place of Ballylickey to her burial site in Bantry and, in between, a tour of many of the places she visited in her search for plants.
‘We are absolutely delighted to have been awarded funding by the Heritage Council. We had already received some welcome funding from Cork County Council for this year’s Festival, but the Heritage Council funding will enable us to develop the trail which has been a dream of ours for the last two years.
‘We are hoping that the trail will provide a lasting legacy.’
See also www.ellenhutchins.com