In tandem with our teaching and research interests, the School of BEES has a variety of internal and external links and is involved in a range of activities which help to inform and enthuse people about our courses, our research, science in general and understanding and protecting our natural environment.
Please see below to find out more about some of these activities.
The School of BEES at University College Cork is involved in research, teaching and outreach across a wide spectrum of areas. You can find out more about some of these areas in the BEES Video Gallery.
Transition Year Programme
The School of BEES Transition Year Programme offers second-level students the chance to discover more about science at UCC in a structured way. Further information.
Botanic Gardens at UCC circa 1890 (National Library of Ireland)
Queen's College Cork (now UCC) was established in 1845 and teaching began in October 1849.One of the first jobs of the newly formed college was to progress a museum of Natural History (Zoology, Botany, Geology) and to develop a Botanic Garden.
Rev. William Hincks (1794-1871) was appointed first Professor of natural History at Cork in 1849, despite having applied for the Chair in Botany alone.
Hincks played a major role in developing the museum, botanic gardens and herbaria at Cork, even at one point making himself ill through the effort he spent on the projects.
An early report of the President of the College notes: "The collections of Botany and Zoology, however, have been brought to a more advanced condition of classification and arrangement by the zeal and assiduous co-operation of Prof. Hincks who devoted himself to that object, although being quite beyond and independent of what his statutory duties should require, and indeed at one time to the injury of his health".
Rev. William Hincks (1794-1871)
Hinks' father, Thomas Dix Hincks, had as part of the Royal Cork Institution, established a short-lived botanical garden some distance from the site of the University and the son was keen to set out the grounds of the new college as a new garden for Cork. This was despite some feeling that such a thing was a luxury the college could do without.
William Hincks recieved the support of the then President Kane and started a garden on campus which would, "as far as climate will allow" give "illustrations of all the orders" and be used for teaching "medical students and economic plants".
In a letter to William Hooker Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, Hincks appealled for samples to add to the collection: "We have just laid out a small Botanic garden in connexion (sic) with the College. Our object is to have every medical or economic plant which will bear the open air in our climate...great hopes that everlong we shall have a small but very useful conservatory but at present we only want hardy things. Will it be in your power to spare us a few interesting things from the magnificent Collection under your care?"
Since its instigation by Hincks in the 1840's to the present day, the grounds of UCC has developed into an environment rich in plant diversity with a large collection of native and exotic tree species forming an important part of the campus landscape.
A number of the trees are Irish 'Champions' and all complement the range of buildings across the college - from the historic Quadrangle to the iconic Glucksman Gallery.
University College Cork welcomes visitors and as well as taking in the buildings of note on the campus, visitors should look out for the array of significant (and historic) trees that remain a unique inheritance from the staff and students that have gone before us.
Visitors can view an Interactive Map of Significant Trees on Campus by clicking here. The map was developed by the Ofice of Buildings and Estates as part of the Green Campus Initiative.
To whet your appetite, here are a few of the most impressive trees on campus:
Ligustrum lucidum) is 9 metres high and 3.19 m in girth and is classified by the Tree Council of Ireland as an "exceptional specimen tree". The species is the largest growing of its genus, reaching up to 25 m in height.
Salix babylonica). The species is native to China and gets its species name, apparently, from a misunderstanding by Linnaeus, who catalouged it, and thought it was a tree mentioned in the Bible: "By the rivers of Babylon... hung our harps upon the willows".
Sequoia sempervirens) located at the entrance to the Boole Library. The species is the only living species in the genus and can live for up to 1800 years or more. The species contains the tallest trees on earth, reaching up to 115 metres in height.
One of the first decisions made by the Board of Presidents and Vice-presidents of the Colleges in 1846 was to establish museums at all three of the new Queen's Colleges of Belfast, Cork and Galway.
Subsequently the architect of Queen's College Cork, Sir Thomas Deane, was instructed to give priority to the sitting of museums over that of the College library. When the College opened it's doors to students in 1849 they found a series of museums established in the North Wing of the Quadrangle - one of the most prestigious sites on the campus.
Specimens were obtained from many sources. The Geological Society of London, the Geological Survey, the Cork Cuvierian Society and many individuals donated specimens and together with purchases from dealers such as Krantz of Bonn, by 1856 a collection of more than 8000 specimens existed. Expansion of the College and the resulting need for lecture and library space led to the museum being dismantled. The specimens were stored in a shed for many years until the completion of the Science Building made space available for a smaller museum to be set up. The museum was moved to it's present location off the Ted Neville Geological Laboratory on the Ground Floor of the Robert Kane (Science) Building in 1981.
The collections are displayed in the original oak cases and are arranged systematically. Mineralogy and Crystallography displays are in the case on the East Wall with local Rocks and Minerals to the South. The remaining cases in the museum contain fossils, including some exceptionally fine crinoids, displayed under explanatory posters.
A row of cases in the laboratory show the different classes of rock and their constituent minerals. A small but comprehensive display of specimens can also be seen on the 2nd floor of the Butler Building. Suspended from the ceiling of the museum are the skull and antlers of the Giant Irish Deer, Megaloceras giganteus. In a case to the right of the entrance is a cast of the type specimen of the marine reptile Plesiosaurus macroephalus, a plesiosaur from the Jurassic (Lias) strata of Lyme Regis, Dorset
Another cast to the left is that of the 'bird ancestor' Archaeopteryx lithographica. This cast is of the most complete and famous of these rare fossils, the "Berlin specimen". The recently restored fossil Ichthyosaur, Icthyosaurus cf. intermedius, is from the Liassic (Lower Jurassic) in age, probably from the Lyme Regis beds like the Plesiosaur.
It is possibly the most valuable fossil in the collection. This fossil is currently on display in the Butler Building. In addition, a plaster cast of a recently discovered Devonian tetrapod trackway from Valentia Island, Co. Kerry is displayed nearby. This trackway is the oldest in situ tetrapod trackway in the world.
A record of some of the donations can be traced in reports and documents and it is possible to see how the museum grew in the 60 years of Queen's College Cork. Past students and Cork exiles donated specimens from places as varied as New Zealand, Canada and South Africa. Lady Windle, the wife of the President of the College, Sir Bertram Windle, was a keen amateur geologist and this is reflected in the fossil and mineral specimens which she gave to the museum.
The only clue to the origin of many specimens is in the style of the label and from these we can pick out the donations of Colonel Charles Coote Grant (Canadian fossils) and see the handwriting of such famous geologists as William Helier Baily (many of our Lyme Regis specimens) and George Victor Du Noyer (plant specimens which he collected from Co. Antrim).
The type specimen of the rare quartz mineral, Cotterite, was presented to the college by Miss E. Cotter of Mallow in 1876 and named after her by the then Professor, Robert Harkness.
General Daniel O'Leary, a hero of the South American Wars of Independence, was born in Cork and never forgot his native city. On two occasions he donated specimens and books.
In its entirety the Museum comprises approximately 20,000 rock, mineral and fossil specimens, and a similar number of geological maps, thin sections, photographic slides, offprints and books.
A geology garden was constructed in 2013 at the Distillery Fields site. It consists of 10 Irish rock specimens set in planting on the southside of the Butler Building. Visitors can explore the garden with the aid of their smart phone and QR labelling. Visit the geology garden webpages.
Sir Edwin John Butler
A UCC graduate, Edwin John Butler had a remarkable career which saw the Irishman traveling the globe and becoming a plant pathologist of international renown.
Butler was born in 1874 at Kilkee, Co. Clare, where his father was the local Magistrate. He studied medicine at Queen’s College Cork (now University College Cork) and graduated in 1898.
In Cork, he came under the influence of Prof. Marcus Hartog who was Professor of Natural History and later Professor of Zoology at the college. Hartog was interested in the mechanics of Saprolegnia, a genus of water-moulds which he collected from ponds including that in the lower grounds of the college (where the Glucksman Gallery now stands). Butler began to use similar techniques to study the neighbouring genus Pythium.
Butler went on to study in Paris and London before being appointed as Imperial Mycologist to India in 1906. His work on aquatic Phycomycetes in India as well as his classical studies on the diseases of palms and sugarcane, on wilt of pigeon peas, on wheat rusts, on downy mildews and much more mean that he is regarded as the “Father of Indian Plant Pathology”. He was responsible for categorising nearly 150 species of plant pathogenic fungi.
In 1918, he published ‘Fungi and Disease in Plants’ on Indian plant diseases. He later adapted this book for a European audience and ‘Plant Pathology’ was published a number of years after his death in collaboration with S.G. Jones.
Butler left India in 1921 and took up Directorship of the newly established Imperial Bureau of Mycology at Kew, London where he continued his work and became a distinguished figure in the world of plant pathology; travelling widely and founding a number of new journals.
The Imperial Bureau of Mycology later formed part of the Commonwealth Agricultural Bureau which is now known as CABI and celebrated its centenary in 2010.
Butler was Knighted in 1939. In Butler's obituary, EW Mason notes that:
"his most striking characteristic was perhaps his immense interest in fungi both as fungi and as the causal organisms of disease in plants, and coupled with this his power of transferring that interest to botanical and lay minds alike. His lifelong habit of wide and deep reading, linked with his accumulated personal experience, enabled him to present problems in their correct perspective and to recommend the line of attack that should best deserve success." (Mason, 1943)
Sir Edwin John Butler died of influenza on April 4th, 1943 in Surrey. He is commemorated by a plaque at Kilkee Library, Co. Clare as well as the Butler Medal which is awarded by the Society of Irish Plant Pathologists to individuals who have made a significant contribution to the field. The Butler Building at the School of BEES, University College Cork was built in 2000 and is also named in his honour. The School of BEES also awards the Butler Prize annually to the best final year student in EPB or Ecology degrees.