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Workshops, walks and talks at Ellen Hutchins Festival of botany in Bantry

August 11th, 2018 8:15 PM

By Southern Star Team

On of Ellen's drawings – she was a talented artist as well as admired botanist.

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BOOKING is now open for events in this year’s Ellen Hutchins Festival, which takes place around Bantry Bay in August.

The festival will run during Heritage Week, from August 18th to 26th. This year there is a strong marine and coastal theme, and there are two boat trips around inner Bantry Bay where Ellen Hutchins – Ireland’s first female botanist – carried out her gorund-breaking research.

On the morning of Friday August 24th, you can join leading botanists Howard Fox (NBG/ OPW) and Maria Cullen on the rocks at Snave for a Micro Nature Trail, an introduction to lichens and tiny plants on the shoreline. 

For the first time this year, there are two Living History events, with historical re-enactor, Carrie O’Flynn from Cork City, in early 1800s costume, showing how Ellen lived and dressed. 

In the afternoon of Friday August 24th, Carrie will cover Letter Writing in 1808 in the period setting of Seaview House Hotel in Ballylickey. 

This very special session allows participants to write with a quill pen and oak gall ink, and fold and seal a letter with wax. 

Hear about Ellen’s seven-year correspondence with fellow botanist, Dawson Turner from researcher Anne Secord of Cambridge University. 

The week marks an important date in Ellen’s Story, because on July 27th in 1808, 210 years ago, she wrote to Dawson Turner to tell him of her discovery of a particular seaweed in fruit, and that she had made a drawing of it. This was her first ever botanical drawing. The seaweed, Fucus tomentosus, had never before been seen in fruit, and the experts were thinking it might be a sponge (animal) and not a seaweed (plant). 

This discovery established Ellen’s credentials as a serious botanist, and the drawing showed that she was also a gifted botanical artist.

 Ellen was just 23 years old and had only been studying botany for three years. 

In a collaboration with the National Biodiversity Data Centre, there are two workshops in Glengarriff Woods on Sunday 19th and Monday 20th, on lichens with Paul Whelan, and on bryophytes with Dr Joanne Denyer. 

Award winning botanical artist, Shevaun Doherty is back again, running a half day introductory workshop on botanical art in the wonderful building at Future Forests, Kealkil, on Saturday 25th and a two-day workshop for those who want to improve their skills, at Bantry House on Thursday 23rd and Friday 24th. 

The Festival is funded by FLAG South, the Heritage Council, National Parks and Wildlife Service and Cork County Council.

Festival leaflets are at Bantry Library and Bantry Tourist Office and www.ellenhutchins.com.

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