Royal Horticultural Society of Ireland to consider pruning ‘Royal’ from its name

Shedding of ancient name to be considered after process of consulting the memberships’ views

The Royal Horticultural Society of Ireland is consulting its membership about whether it should drop the “Royal” from its name.

The society was founded in the Rose Tavern in Donnybrook as the Horticultural Society of Ireland in 1816 and added the word “Royal” to its name sometime before 1848.

It is to hold an extraordinary general meeting of its members to consider the name change following a motion at its annual meeting in May which was passed but not voted on.

The society’s former secretary and former editor of its journal, Mary Hackett, submitted the motion that the board seek the views of the membership on changing the society’s name to “Horticultural Society of Ireland or another title acceptable to members”.


A survey is now being conducted with the society’s almost 1,500 members being asked to share their thoughts on the proposal in “concise” submissions of between 100 and 150 words.

The members have been asked to address the strengths and weaknesses of the current name as well as the opportunities and threats presented by a name change.

A document reflecting the range of submitted opinions is to be circulated to the membership and an EGM to vote on the possibility of a name change is then to take place.

“We will have a vote on the name change, including on what the name change might be,” said the society’s chair Philip Hollwey. “The board as a board has no opinion and is soliciting the views of the members.”

It is possible the membership will vote against any name change, he said. The members have been asked to send in their opinions by Friday, December 1st.

It was not possible to contact Ms Hackett for comment. The motion she submitted to the AGM asked that following a survey of the membership the board would convene a meeting “which will propose to change the name of the society” and, if necessary, its constitution, to reflect the wishes of the membership as expressed in the survey.

The society describes itself on its website as being “all about spreading the love and knowledge of horticulture, arboriculture, and floral art, all while fostering a deep respect for our environment and creating a close-knit community.”

The Royal Horticultural Society in the UK, which has more than half a million members, is a separate organisation. It was founded as the Horticultural Society of London in 1804 and was soon thereafter given a royal charter or grant of incorporation. The Irish society does not have a royal charter.

There are a number of well-known organisations in the Republic that retain the word royal in their names, including the Royal Dublin Society (RDS), the Royal Irish Academy (RIA) and the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland.

Colm Keena

Colm Keena

Colm Keena is an Irish Times journalist. He was previously legal-affairs correspondent and public-affairs correspondent