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In Memoriam: Dr. Keith Lamb, 1919 – 2011

February 7, 2011

From the Irish Seed Savers Association:

We are very sorry to report the passing of Dr. Keith Lamb, who was instrumental in saving many of the apple varieties that we now preserve and propagate at Irish Seed Savers. In the 1940s, Dr Lamb recognised a pattern of destruction in both commercial orchards and private orchards, so he set out to identify, collect, cultivate and save numerous varieties of old Irish apples that were still in private and commercial cultivation in the 1940s. His research turned up 53 varieties of Irish apple. Some like the Irish Peach or the Early Crofton were widely distributed. Others were of a more local character, with particular varieties associated with the North of Ireland, the Midlands and the South of Ireland.

Some of the apples he encountered and saved have wonderful, suggestive names like Honey Ball, Greasy Pippin, Lady’s Finger, Maiden’s Blush, and Widow’s Friend. Irish varieties of apples were noted for their resistance to disease, especially canker and scab. In addition they thrived in Irish soils and were well suited to Irish climatic conditions. Today his work continues in two orchards where experts have managed to retrieve and cultivate some of the old varieties identified by Dr. Lamb: UCD, Lamb Clark Historic Apple Collection and here at Irish Seed Savers.

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