She was Ireland’s first female botanist.
Now Ellen Hutchins has been immortalised in colourful paint on Lapp’s Quay as part of the Mad About Cork series of street box paintings.
The pioneering Corkwoman, who was born near Bantry in 1785, is known for her botanical illustrations in contemporary publications as well as collecting and identifying hundreds of specimens.
Her interest in botany began when she was cared for by Dr Whitley Stokes, a family friend, when she fell ill while at school in Dublin. Soon she was expertly identifying, recording and drawing the plants she collected, earning her the attention and praise of seasoned experts in the field.
In fact, she has even had a number of her rare finds named after her, including three species of lichens: Lecania hutchinsiae, Pertusaria hutchinsiae and Enterographa hutchinsiae and two marine algae: Cladophora hutchinsiae and Dasya hutchinsiae Harveyu.
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After a lifelong battle with ill health, she died at the home of her brother Arthur and his wife Matilda near Ballylickey, on Bantry Bay on February 9th, 1815, shortly before her thirtieth birthday.
These days most of Ellen Hutchins’ drawings are in the library and archive at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, while her specimens are mostly in the herbarium at the Natural History Museum in London.
Other specimens and drawings can be found at Trinity College, Dublin; the Natural History Museum, London; the Linnean Society, London (Smith collection); and the New York Botanical Garden, while a festival takes place annually in Bantry in her honour.
In the city however, Ellen Hutchins joins a selection of Cork’s brightest stars to be celebrated by Mad About Cork, including the Frank And Walters; Mary Elmes and actors Cillian Murphy and Jack Gleeson.