Mairéad O’ Sullivan

Department of Anthropology, Maynooth University


Seed Savers in Co. Clare is an organisation home to Ireland’s national seed bank. Through the organic cultivation of a variety of rare and native plants, including over 165 types of native apple tree, Seed Savers protect an invaluable part of Irish heritage. An excerpt directly taken from my MA thesis, ‘Roots’ tells of my journey to Seed Savers, of the people who work there, and of the plants that are grown by them. Exploring connections between land, language and food, this excerpt is not a theory laden piece, but an account rich with ethnographic detail. I wish to bring the reader along with me through the story that is woven from the lowly seeds residing in the seed bank to the grand rows of apple trees that populate the orchards and those who would protect them. After all, what is ethnography if not a story of the people we meet and the stories they tell?


Food; Horticulture; Heritage; Identity

Citation: O’ Sullivan, M., 2020. “Roots”, Irish Journal of Anthropology, 23(1), 56-70.