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Open House at the Ellen Hutchins Reading Room and Archives

  • Saturday 10th February from 10:30am to 12:30pm 
  • Ellen Hutchins Building, Lee Road, Cork T23 XE10 with easy parking
  • Free of charge

Drop in and use a microscope or hand lens to see the fascinating miniature world of lichens with guidance from Paul Whelan, leading Irish lichenologist. Try writing with a quill pen and folding a letter in the style of the early 1800s. See the archives, displays and films, browse the books.

This is an opportunity to see the current display in the Ellen Hutchins Archives Cabinet of a drawing, three seaweed specimens and letters of  Ellen’s. Also on display will be other archives including books belonging to Ellen and Madeline Hutchins, researcher on Ellen and her great great grandniece, will be there to chat about them.

There will be information and activities suitable for adults and children aged six and above. Drop in or stay all morning.

The Ellen Hutchins Festival publications on botany and the small biography on Ellen will be on sale. Pick up the Festival’s free leaflets introducing seaweeds, lichens and bryophytes (mosses and liverworts) and copies of the Twelve Tree Trail.

To celebrate Ireland’s first female botanist and to mark International Day of Women and Girls in Science, the Ellen Hutchins Reading Room in the UCC Environmental Research Institute (ERI) is holding Open House.

Established in September 2022 when the former ERI Lee Road Building was renamed the Ellen Hutchins Building, the room has a collection of books on botany, biodiversity and caring for plants and the planet. There is a display, a short film and information on Ellen’s life and work as botanist of Bantry Bay. See beautiful seaweed specimens and a small exhibition on correspondence from the early 1800s including postage stamps and seals.

The Ellen Hutchins Archives Cabinet displays one of Ellen’s watercolour drawings of seaweed and currently has three seaweed specimens of Ellen’s on loan from the Herbarium, Botany Department, Trinity College Dublin. There are also on display, specifically for the Open House, some of Ellen’s letters, books she owned, as well as botany books related to her story. See where Ellen pressed plant specimens in between the pages of a French commercial dictionary that had belonged to her father, and a natural history book that she dated 1st January 1810.

Paul Whelan, author of Lichens of Ireland and Great Britain - a visual guide (April 2024) will show you why lichens are worth a closer look. They are a unique life form. See an amazing miniature world with great beauty and a variety of forms and colour. 

This is a joint event of the Ellen Hutchins Festival and the Environmental Research Institute of UCC.

Significant dates

The 9th February is the anniversary of Ellen’s death in 1815, aged just 29. The date is now perfectly placed between St Brigid’s Day National Holiday on Monday 5th February and the International Day of Women and Girls in Science on11th February.