Above: Madeline Hutchins, great great grand niece of Ellen, and co-author of the Trail, on the beach by the airstrip, Bantry - stop 2 on the Trail.
The newly launched Ellen Hutchins Heritage Trail, with free leaflet, audio guide, and website, invites you to explore the plants, seaweeds and landscape of Bantry Bay through the story of Ireland’s first female botanist, by visiting nine sites significant to Ellen’s plant hunting and her life. At each site there is information about place, plants and an aspect of Ellen’s story. The audio guide for use with smart phones has tracks for each place, and these start with an extract from one of Ellen’s letters read by an actress. There are also extracts from the Journal of a Welsh botanist, Lewis Dillwyn, who visited Ellen at Ballylickey and was delighted with the seaweeds and shells of Bantry Bay.
The stops on the Trail range from Ellen’s unmarked grave and commemorative plaque in Garryvurcha churchyard, Bantry to the high mountain passes of Priests Leap and Healy Pass. The sites include some of her favourite places for plant hunting – the beach under Blue Hill by the airstrip, Whiddy Island, Coomhola Bridge with the Coorycommane Loop Walk and Glengarriff Woods – as well as her birthplace and home at Ballylickey.
Funded by the Heritage Council and the Fisheries Local Action Group South, the Trail was developed by the Ellen Hutchins Festival and the audio guide was created in association with Abarta Heritage.
Some of the people involved in creating the Trail leaflet and audio guide were able to be in Bantry Tourist Office when the leaflets arrived ‘hot from the press’, and they were the first to see them and to listen to the audio guide tracks alongside the leaflet.
The Ellen Hutchins Festival Team were delighted that Breda Moriarty could be there, as she features on the cover of the Trail leaflet, in a photograph taken last August during the Seaweed Event on Whiddy Island, in the Ellen Hutchins Festival. Breda is a research assistant on the Deep Maps Project at UCC and works in the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences. The Deep Maps Project has been mapping the history, culture and environment of West Cork Coastal Cultures from 1700 to 1920 and also addressing current issues such as conservation, pollution and climate change. See www.deepmapscork.ie.
This year’s Ellen Hutchins Festival will be back from August 18 – 26, with the Whiddy Island Seaweed Event on Sunday, August 26. See www.ellenhutchins.com for more on the Heritage Trail and the Festival.