After a long – too long – period of almost Siberian temperatures it seems spring finally arrived in the Southwest of Ireland. Many blooming camellias are really suffering, the blooms look like old lettuce. But the new flowers open in perfect shape and colours. Most of the huge Rhododendron arboreum plants display their bright pink flowers now. A dead myrtle tree fell onto the lovely Gingerbread Tree (Katsura Tree, Cercidiphyllum japonicum) seriously endangering people strolling on the main path to the graveyard and to the new cottages – which are well booked and quite busy with lots of children this week.
There is a nice obituary for Richard Hutchins written by his daughter Madeline in the Guardian, read it here.
Richard Hutchins is not longer among us but his presence is still strong.
He even seems to have best connections to the weather makers above. 😉 How else could it happen that after a dull, grey and rainy week the “lights” (outside) suddenly went on? On a bright and sunny afternoon – exactly a month after he deceased – a loving memorial service took place in St. Brendan’s Church in Bantry.
His long life was celebrated – from his early childhood in Ardnagashel (1915-1921) to his last weeks near London.
Ardnagashel House was decorated with his favourite flowers (daffodils which are now flowering in the fields and along the roads on the estate), with lots of greenery from his beloved tree ferns, from the giant rhododendron which he admired so much, with huge branches of myrtles (Luma apiculata) which were brought to Ardnagashel by his ancestors and with lovely twigs of a willow podocarp (Podocarpus salignus – the champion tree which stood nearby fell in autumn of 2010). Mike Collard from Future Forests in Kealkil placed vases with beautiful flowers and branches all over the place: catkins, daffodils, cherries, Dacrydium franklinii and Dacrydium cupressinum, Cryptomeria japonica and many more. More than 50 guests got a warm welcome by an amazing fragrance of woods and meadows.
Hundreds of papers, photographs, maps and many more bits and pieces illustrated Richards life and his commitment for nature, walking, cycling, youth hostels, trees and so many other activities. Here (click!) you can read and listen about his outdoor experiences, here are some other fascinating facts, hier können deutsche LeserInnen einiges über ihn nachlesen. He donated his mortal remains to the scientific world, after three years or so his ashes will be brought to the lovely Killeen in Ardnagashel. We are glad and proud having met him and being inspired by his never ending enthusiasm for all things ‘green’. We will try to continue his work in saving the precious arboretum of Ardnagashel which was once established by Ireland’s first women botanist Ellen Hutchins (1785-1815) and her brothers Arthur and Samuel Hutchins (Richard’s great-grandfather). It is a national treasure but so far hardly anybody is interested in this asset of valuable historical interest. Hopefully the day will come – before it’s too late as the place is terribly endangered. We thank Richard’s family for their generous sharing of their family treasures.
Isabel Alice Edith Hutchins (nee Peacock) almost became the victim of an ambush at Ardnagashel. The shock caused a premature baby to be born at the Big House down by the sea on the 28th of April 1915. Richard Newburgh Hutchins was the long-awaited heir of the Hutchins family as Isabel was already 29 years of age and had “only” two daughters. Although she became a war widow and she had to leave her home with her three children in 1921 Richard became and stayed quite attached to the place of his birth. After a long life in England he even moved back to Ardnagashel to look after his beloved trees. Several strokes hardly could affect his enthusiasm and his passion for nature.
Yesterday he passed away peacefully in his sleep – he was almost 98 years old. He had spent a little more than an year at his daughter’s home as an independent life was getting difficult if impossible. The funeral will take place in England and a memorial will be held in Bantry. May he rest in peace!
Isabel Alice Edith Hutchins (nee Peacock 1886-1957)
…there comes the sun.
We got a pair of huge yucca palm trees which desperately need some fertilizer. They can recover in the sun and enjoy quite a good warmth. And we did some Christmas decoration.
The tiny – usually hardly visible – waterfall at the west facing side of the house became an impressive feature.
Like on the very old photographs of Ardnagshel House is has been streaming into the cove below the small bridge.
But the bridge was more elaborate than nowadays. Richard Hutchins let me reproduce this very old drawing (probably around 1855) by one of his ancestors. I remember him telling me that his grandfather’s sister Louisa Ellen (Eleanor, 1829-1922), the second daughter of Samuel Hutchins and Frances Camac, was a very talented artist. She married William Shore Nightingale in 1959, a cousin of Florence Nightingale, the world famous nurse.
Ardnagashel seen from above the famous steps in the back garden of Bantry House. Until 1765 it was called Blackrock House, and it was the home of the Hutchins family. Then Councillor Richard White purchased it.
The Hutchins’ in turn moved first to Ballylickey and then around 1800 to Ardnagashel.
In the old days Ardnagashel House was a so called Big House – some generations of the Hutchins’ family had been living there since the early 1800s. In the April 1911 Census it was only newly wed Richard Hutchins (34y) and Isabel Alice Edith (25y) with two servants. Just a few years later he died in WWI (1915) leaving behind Isabel with two daughters an their baby son Richard (who still lives nearby). Ten years before, according to the 1901 Census, the house was full of people: parents Samuel Newburgh (66y) and his wife Marianne Isabella (50y) and (the above newly wed) Richard (24), Alicia Isabella (22y), Emanuel (19y), Thomas Arthur (12y), Ellen Madeline (10y), Marion Geraldine (6y) and four domestic servants (one being a nurse).
This is Ardnagashel House in October 2011 seen through the lens of the professional photographer Clemens Mader.
The wonderful old cork oak (Quercus suber) broke into pieces in spring. After some years of desperate struggle. In probably 200 years it saw many members of the former owners, the Hutchins family.
It even saw the evacuation of the then young boy Richard in 1921. He is 96 years now and still living nearby. In June 2006 Sir Thomas Pakenham and many members of the Irish Tree Society admired the wonderful tree which had then flowered some weeks before.
In February 2008 it still looked like that.
In late spring 2006 the western part was in full bloom.