We are delighted to announce the release of the Ellen Hutchins Trail. This audio guide leads you through the stunning scenery of West Cork to discover the story of Ellen Hutchins, Ireland’s first female botanist. Born in Ballylickey in 1785, Ellen made a tremendous contribution to science, by carrying out truly pioneering work in botanical collection and illustration, through her work in studying and recording the plants, lichens and seaweeds of Bantry Bay and the surrounding area. Her achievements were made all the more remarkable by her perseverance through ill-health and a troubled family life.

How We Created the Ellen Hutchins Trail Audio Guide

The annual Ellen Hutchins Festival celebrates Ellen’s life and achievements. This year it will take place around Bantry, West Cork between 18th to 26th August 2018 as part of National Heritage Week, with its theme of Sharing Stories. It will offer walks and talks, an exhibition, practical workshops featuring botany, botanical art and an exploration of the natural and cultural heritage of the area.

The organisers of the festival got in touch with Abarta to help to promote Ellen’s story by creating a heritage trail that allows people to walk in her footsteps at any time of year, and to experience the truly beautiful landscape and biodiversity that so inspired her. The project was supported by the Heritage Council and the Fisheries Local Action Group South.

With the help and guidance of Clare Heardman, Angela O’Donovan and Ellen’s relative Madeline Hutchins, Geni and Neil of Abarta started to work on the script. Each track is based on a location that was important in Ellen’s life. Locations include the house at Ballylickey where Ellen grew up and where she lived for most of her life, the graveyard in Bantry where she is buried in an unmarked grave and the many beautiful natural locations around the shores, islands, mountains and woodlands of Bantry Bay where Ellen undertook her important work.

Watercolour drawing of Fucus asparagoides by Ellen Hutchins 1811. Image courtesy of the Hutchins family.

Watercolour drawing of Fucus asparagoides by Ellen Hutchins 1811. Image courtesy of the Hutchins family.

Recording the Ellen Hutchins Trail

Each track also begins with an excerpt from letters exchanged from Ellen to Dawson Turner, an eminent botanist and great friend and mentor of Ellen’s. This correspondence gives a great insight into Ellen’s character and world view.  The story is wonderfully brought to life by Sarah-Jane Scott who plays the part of Ellen, and Gerry O’Brien who narrates the guide and also features as Ellen’s friend Dawson Turner, along with the Welsh botanist Lewis Dillwyn and Lord Kenmare.

We hope we have done justice to Ellen and her work, and we would love you to leave a review on the guide to let us know if you enjoyed it.

For more on Ellen’s story and details on the Ellen Hutchins Festival please visit www.ellenhutchins.com where you can also find a copy of the Heritage Trail leaflet that will help you to discover the locations featured in the audio guide.