Seaweed & Sealing Wax 3: Ellen Hutchins & Dawson Turner. Featuring Marianne Lee

Time and date

Friday 14 July 2023

11:00 am


Future Forests

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Ellen Hutchins and Dawson Turner: A deeper connection through letters, plants and poetry

How did the friendship between botanists, Ellen Hutchins of Ballylickey, Bantry and Dawson Turner of Great Yarmouth, England between grow deeper? Live through a moment in time and a slice of two people’s lives, through their letters. What resonates now? Hear Marianne Lee read from her novel A Quiet Tide, and talk about what drew her to Ellen’s story. Artist, Oonagh Hurley, will explain her inspiration for the painting Ellen or Hutchinsiae and the research she undertook in its making.

Admission: €18

Over the course of their seven year correspondence, 1807 – 1814, the friendship between botanists, Ellen Hutchins of Ballylickey, Bantry and Dawson Turner of Great Yarmouth, England, developed a closeness that went way past the seaweeds and plants they were identifying. They never met but developed a surprisingly intimate relationship through the sharing of family events and the exchange of views on a range of topics including poetry with Byron featuring strongly.


Hear their story through extracts of their letters read by performers, Karen Minihan – live –  and Robin McLoughlin – recorded, with introductory and explanatory notes by Finola Finlay (Roaringwater Journal). The piece weaves this together with Marianne Lee reading from her novel, A Quiet Tide, discussing what drew her to Ellen’s story and her creative process in writing the novel.


Oonagh Hurley’s painting of Ellen Hutchins was in the Women Unremembered exhibition at LHQ in Cork City last year and was purchased by UCC for the renaming of the Environmental Research Institute building Áras Ellen Hutchins in September 2022. The painting now hangs in the reading room dedicated to Ellen and the study of the environment.


After questions and answers, Madeline Hutchins, as Ellen’s relative, will present some archives and artefacts from Ellen’s life including her copy of Byron’s Childe Harold and other books she owned.


An Ellen Hutchins Festival production with funding from a Cork County Council arts grant.


  ‘Ellen, or ‘Hutchinsiae’, 2022, Acrylic and collage on canvas, by Oonagh Hurley


Marianne Lee

Marianne Lee grew up in Tullamore, Co. Offaly and now lives in Dublin with her husband and Esme the cat. She has a degree in Visual Communications from the National...

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Finola Finlay

Finola Finlay has a BA in History and Archaeology and an MA in Archaeology from UCC. After many years in Canada, working in the higher education sector, she has retired...

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Oonagh Hurley

'Ellen, or 'Hutchinsiae', 2022, Acrylic and collage on canvas, 120 x 100cm, a painting by Oonagh Hurley   Oonagh Hurley is a Cork based painter. She graduated from Crawford Collage...

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Madeline Hutchins

Madeline Hutchins is the main researcher on Ellen Hutchins and is her great-great-grandniece. She has transcribed a great many of Ellen Hutchins’ and Dawson Turner’s letters. Madeline wrote the small...

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Karen Minihan

Karen Minihan is a writer, theatre director, performer and actor for many years. Her current body of work explores the stories from the founding of the state and includes a...

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