The Atlas of Irish Mathematics: Donegal (Jun 2017)


On 15 Jun 2017, the Annals of Irish Mathematics & Mathematicians turned two and a half years old. It then accounted for just over 3000 people, reflecting an average growth rate of 100 people per month.

One of AIMM's spin-off features is The Atlas of Irish Mathematics, which highlights some of the more notable careers, county by county. Below, we take a chronological look at the case of Donegal, surveying 20 mathematically trained people associated with the most northwesterly county on the island.



There are additional Donegal maths connections that could be explored on another occasion. For instance, QUB's topologist Declan McCartan was born Donegal as a result of a wartime temporary family relocation, but grew up in Belfast. Also, the maths teaching staff at Letterkenny Institute of Technology includes people originally from outside Donegal who now call it home.


Flag Counter

1. John Kells Ingram (1823-1907) was born in Templecarne, Pettigo, and was brought up there and in Newry. He was educated at TCD, where he excelled in maths, both as a student and early in his long career there. He has been co-credited with introducing the geometric concept of inversion in a circle. He was professor of oratory and Greek, and rose to the rank of vice provost. He is remembered today as an economist and as a poet; indeed he penned "The Memory of the Dead" (aka "Who Fears to Speak of '98"). Also, as the librarian at TCD, it was he who first had the Book of Kells put on public display. Wikipedia DUB

2. Agnes Geraldine Scott (1879-1954?) was born in Moville, Inishowen, and attended Alexandra College in Dublin. She earned her BA in 1902 from the Royal University of Ireland, a few years before TCD awarded women degrees. Her career included teaching in Exeter and Newcastle. Woman's World

3. Margaret Funston (1893 to at least 1938) was born in Tullycarn, near Pettigo, and got her degree from TCD where she was a Scholar in mathematics. She is believed to have taught for many years.

4. Frank Marshall Smith (1912-1987), another TCD scholar in maths, was born in Carndonagh, Inishowen. (His mother Dorothy Carlton Harden had received an RUI maths degree in 1897.) He taught at Campbell College in Belfast, as well as at some schools in England, but the bulk of his career was spent in the civil service in Malaya.

5. Kay McNulty (1921-2006) was born in Creeslough, near Dunfanaghy, but family circumstances led to her growing up in Philadelphia. She earned a maths degree there in 1942 and went on to become a pioneering computer programmer on the ENIAC. History remembers Kay under her later married names, as Mauchly and/or Antonelli. Wikipedia MacTutor

6. Fintan Gallagher was born in Downings, and was educated at UCG. Thanks to an exchange studentship program, he pursued postgraduate study in maths at the University of Geneva, but he soon switched to computers. Most of his career was spent in computer planning and design with IBM in Nice, France. His daughters Maureen (Clerc) and Isabelle (Mazelet) both ended up in maths-related research. Isabelle is professor in Paris-Diderot University, and Maureen is into brain research at INRIA in Sophia-Antipolis, near Nice.

7. Brendan Quigley was born in Lifford, and mostly grew up in Strabane, Tyrone. He was educated at QUB and at Indiana University at Bloomington. An algebraic topologist by training, he taught at UCD for four decades, where he was an early proponent of the use of LaTeX software. MGP


9. Mathematical physicist Johnny Gallagher was born in Dungloe, and received all of his education at UCG. Trained in elasticity, for over 30 years he worked at Dundalk IT. MGP


9. Joe Varilly was born in Carrigans, east of Letterkenny, and grew up in Dungloe. He was educated at UCD and at the University of Rochester. He has spent his career at the University of Costa Rica, and has written two books on noncommutative geometry. His son Tony Várilly-Alvarado is also a mathematician. MGP MathSciNet Costa Rica Costa Rica 2


10. Jimmy McLaughlin was born in Glentogher, Inishowen, and was at first educated at the University of Ulster in Coleraine. After a long gap, he pursued postgraduate work at UCD and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Most of his subsequent career has been spent at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. His research interests include integer partitions, continued fractions, Q-series and the mathematics of Ramanujan. He has forthcoming book entitled "Topics and Methods in q-Series." MGP MathSciNet West Chester


11. Chris Boyd was born in Bunbeg, and was educated at TCD and UCD. He now teaches at UCD, and his research interests include functional analysis, infinite dimensional holomorphy, and the geometry of Banach spaces. MGP MathSciNet UCD


12. Ronan Flatley was born in Dublin and brought up in Sligo town and Letterkenny. He was educated entirely at UCD, and now teaches at Mary Immaculate College in Limerick. His interests include central simple algebras with involution and the algebraic theory of quadratic forms. MGP MathSciNet MIC

13. Paddy Hannigan was born in Letterkenny, and was educated at DCU and at the University of Ulster at Jordanstown. A probabilist by training, his career has been spent at the Letterkenny Institute of Technology. MGP

14. John Cyril Murray was born in Clonmel, then lived in Wexford before his family settled down in Letterkenny. He was educated first at UCD, where he won an NUI Travelling Studentship Prize, and then at the University Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. An algebraist, his career has been spent at Maynooth. MGP MathSciNet Maynooth


15. Maria Meehan was born in Donegal town, and was educated at UCG, where she won an NUI Travelling Studentship Prize. She teaches at UCD. Her interests were originally in the existence of solutions of nonlinear integral and integrodifferential equations, and she co-edited two books on those topics. Now she researches how students learn advanced mathematics at university level. MGP MathSciNet UCD

16. Helen Purtill (née Mac Mullen) was born in Killybegs, and was educated at DCU and at Sheffield Hallam. She has long been a statistician at the University of Limerick, where she is a member of the Health Research Institute and is actively involved in interdisciplinary research with assorted collaborators. MGP UL


17.Theoretical physicist Francis Dolan (1977-2011) was born in Sligo and grew up in Killygordon, near Ballybofey. He was educated at UCG and Cambridge. His short career was very productive. His interests included superconformal characters and partition functions. MGP MathSciNet Surrey Inspire Dedication

18. Martin Kerin was born in Buncrana, and was educated at Maynooth and at the University of Pennsylvania. A differential geometer by training, he works at the University of Münster. His interests include positive and non-negative sectional curvature, and the geometry and topology of homogeneous spaces and biquotients. MGP MathSciNet Münster

19. John Harvey was born in Carndonagh, Inishowen, and was educated at UCD and at the University of Notre Dame. A differential geometer by training, he recently completed a postdoc at the University of Münster. His research interests lie in Alexandrov geometry, Riemannian geometry and transformation groups. MGP MathSciNet



20. James O'Malley was born in Glenties, and educated at Maynooth, where he now tutors. His studies have spanned maths and music, and he plans to complete a PhD in the former. He recently won a ‘Teaching Hero’ award from the National Forum for Teaching and Learning.