Announcing Kennedy Irish Primroses
A unique collection of Primroses bred over 35 years from old Irish varieties.
Since then I have had a soft spot for Primroses and now another reason for this is the wonderful work of Joe Kennedy, who hails from Carlow but now lives near Ballycastle, County Antrim. A modest man with exceptional ability as an amateur breeder, his professional training as a dentist has given him a precision and attention-to-detail perfectly suited to the finer points of breeding.
I first met Joe in 2006 having contacted him after reading an article he wrote in an Irish Garden Plant Society (IGPS) Newsletter. We got in touch over the phone and he was soon educating me on the history and breeding of this beautiful plant in Ireland going back to the late 1800's. From that moment on I was hooked on bringing these wonderful plants to the world. Since then I have selected some of Joes best work and we have developed micropropagation protocols so that we can produce sufficient numbers to launch to gardeners in USA and Euope.
A new creation from good stock
With this launch, I hope we can do Joes work some justice by bringing to a much wider audience these wonderful old-style “Kennedy Irish Primroses”. After 35 dedicated years of breeding, we hope it’s a proud moment for Joe also as it certainly is for us.
The first plant launch to start the program coincides with the 50th Anniversary of the inauguration of John F Kennedy as President of USA in January 1961. New additional varieties in this first series will be released through to the 50th Anniversary of his visit to Ireland and death in 1963. This collaboration between a Fitzgerald and a Kennedy to bring old Irish Primroses, all the way from County Wexford, near the old Kennedy homestead, is a typically Irish coincidence. All of the plants are being produced in Co Wexford. We are currently working on 36 more selections. Plants of the first two selections will be available this Spring. Inisfree is a vivid red with yellow eye on dark foliage and Drumcliffe another dark foliage variety but this time with larger lilac coloured flowers. More will follow with yellow, white, peach and pink flowers all on the most intensely dark purple foliage ever seen on Primroses.
All this development will secure local employment in Co Wexford and Co Kilkenny only a stonesthrow from another Irish Kennedy story.
In addition to unique foliage characteristics we are working on other exciting traits all bred by Joe from the old Irish varieties dating back to the late 19th century. I hope gardeners will agree a new direction in the beauty of the Primrose has been born out of these old robust perrenial Irish selections. Many of the later varieties will introduce some of the old “Hose-in-Hose”, “Jack-in-the-Greens” and various matt-forming stoloniferous types. Unique characteristics , just like Joe himself.
The Lake Isle of Innisfree.
By William Butler Yeats.