An Irish Botanical Alphabet

An Irish Botanical Alphabet 

The Irish Society of Botanical Artists in association with the National Botanic Gardens,

Sample Letter

The Irish Botanical Alphabet project is the inspiration of members of the Irish Society of Botanical Artists and staff at the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin.

This exciting project aims to illuminate the eighteen letters of the Irish alphabet with selected native Irish plants. Each plant will be chosen for the first letter of their Irish name with the selection reflecting a balance of plants from the various habitats of Ireland.

Each artist has been given a template to work from and will have a full growing season to complete the work. Alphabets from the completed works will be selected by an independent committee and exhibited at the Visitors Centre at the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin in 2014. The aim of the Society is that the project is as open and inclusive as possible. It is hoped that a fringe exhibition of all works and preparatory material will be facilitated.

Artists are expected to work in their own style and technique, with the unity in the body of works coming from the letter design and prescribed size.

This innovative project will be a showcase of excellence for the Irish Society of Botanical Artists.


‘Getting to know you……’ Brendan Sayers conducts a ‘botanical walk’ in the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin when he introduced artists to the various habits and habitats of the native plants we will be painting.


The project has met with an extraordinarily positive response. Seventy one members of the Irish Society of Botanical Artists are committing to the project!

Support Meetings:

When: Friday, May 3rd – 2pm and Monday, June 17th – 10.30 am.

Where: Meeting Room, Curvilinear Range, NBG, Glasnevin, Dublin.

What to Bring: Bring your sketches, designs, plans, any issues you have with your design, or with your plant. Help will be at hand!!!

In order to encourage and inspire all participating artists, Susan Sex and Brendan Sayers will provide both artistic and botanical support at regular intervals throughout the project.


To see Susan’s presentation click on the link below to view on youtube.

The channel is called: IrishBotanicalArt13

Susan and Brendan both made presentations at the ISBA general meeting in early April.


 Here is Brendan’s presentation.


We have allocated plants to people on a lottery basis.


Polygala serpyllifolia Na deirfiurini Milkwort

Included in our selection are:

  • Native speciesNot protected by legislation
  • Relatively easy to access
  • Reasonable length to flowering time
  • Pretty enough
  • Some with a ‘talkative’ Irish name


Dactylorhiza fuchsii 


Primula vulgaris Sabhaircin Primrose

Painting Timescale:

Artists have one full growing season in which to complete their work – from spring 2013 to autumn 2013.


The finished paintings will be within a 30 cm x 30 cm square.



Internationally recognised Irish calligrapher, Tim O’Neil has collaborated with us in the botanical alphabet project. Tim has designed an uncial alphabet of Irish letters especially for our project


Fabriano Artistico, extra white, watercolour paper, hot pressed, 300lb.

Paper has been made available to each artist.

Accepted Media:


Pencil, colour pencil, watercolour pencil, water soluble wax crayons, pen and ink, pastels, water colour, gouache, acrylic when used watered down, fine art print, mixture of these, no digital media.

‘Getting to know you…….!’

So now we have our plants and our paper and letters, let’s enjoy what really matters – getting to know our plants and painting them!!

Mary Dillon on behalf of:

ISBA Irish Botanical Alphabet Exhibition Sub-committee

Alexandra Cacamo, Mary Dillon, Mary McInerney, Yanny Petters,

Elizabeth Prendergast, Colette Roberts, Brendan Sayers, Marie Stamp.