The Atlas of Irish Mathematics: Wexford (Aug 2017)

The Annals of Irish Mathematics & Mathematicians currently documents over 3500 people. Its spin-off Atlas of Irish Mathematics highlights some of the more notable careers, county by county.

In June here, we took a chronological look at the careers of some mathematically trained people from Donegal. This month, we focus on people from the southeast corner county of the island, Wexford.




 Flag Counter


0. Cadwallader Colden (1688-1776) was born 7 February in Enniscorthy, Wexford, but was brought up in Scotland. He was educated at Edinburgh, and practiced as a doctor in Philadelphia before moving to New York where he was governor for many years. While he is mainly remembered as a botanist, he also published on optics and fluxions.

Wikipedia / Encyclopedia


1. Lambert Hughes (1698-1771) was born in Wexford and was educated at TCD (Scholar 1717, BA 1719, MA & Fellow 1722, BD 1730, DD 1737). He was the 8th Donegall Lecturer of maths there (1731-1734) and also Archbishop King's lecturer of divinity. In 1739, he was expelled from the college over a scandal. From 1741 on, he was a clergyman in Kildare and Louth, also serving as chancellor of Christ Church in Dublin.

TCD / Christ Church

2. Bartholomew Lloyd (1772-1837) was born 5 Feb in New Ross. He was educated at TCD (BA 1792, MA & Fellowship 1796, BD 1805, DD 1808), where he had been Scholar in 1790, and spent his entire career there. Starting in 1813, when he was appointed Erasmus Smith's Prof of Maths, he implemented radical changes in the methods of teaching mathematics, including the introduction of the calculus to the curriculum. In 1822, he became Erasmus Smith's Prof of Natural & Experimental Philosophy, a position he held until becoming Provost in 1831.  At various points he also was Donnellan Lecturer, Regius Prof of Greek and Archbishop King's Lecturer of Divinity.  He wrote several books.

Wikipedia / MacTutor / TCD 1 / TCD 2

3. Arthur Conway (1875-1950) was born 2 Oct in Wexford town, and was educated at UCD (BA 1896, MA 1897, DSc (hon) 1908).  He won an RUI Travelling Studentship in 1898 and the following year went to Oxford where he studied under AEH Love.  He spent 1901-1947 on the staff at UCD, rising to the rank of president.  He had a great passion for quaternions, authored one of the very first books on relativity, and co-edited two volumes of the collected papers of Hamilton.

MathSciNet MacTutor Wikipedia UCD


3B. Margaret Gough (later Sister Mary de Lellis, 1892-1983) was born 15 February in Rickardstown, Kilmore, Wexford.  Upon finishing school at 17, she sailed to Texas to become a nun, and is believed to have taught until 1916.  She was then educated (in stages) at Catholic University in Washington, DC (BA 1920, MA by thesis 1923, PhD 1931), returning to San Antonio, Texas, between degrees.  Her master's thesis was on "The Representability of a Number by an Indefinite Binary Quadratic Form”, and her doctoral thesis was "On the Condition for the Existence of Triangles In-and-Circumscribed to Certain Types of Rational Quartic Curve and Having a Common Side", done under Aubrey Landry.  She taught at Incarnate Word College in San Antonio until 1943, and then for a year at Incarnate Word Academy in St Louis.  She then left teaching due to health issues, and worked for 2 decades as an accountant in Forth Worth.  She is the earliest known Irish woman to get a PhD in maths.

Wikipedia / 1901 Census / New Ross / Green & Laduke / Blog

4. Colm Barry (1906-1976) was born 29 Nov in Enniscorthy, and was educated at UCD. He worked as a statistician in the department of industry and commerce, and his family recalls Brian Lenihan describing him as "the most brilliant civil servant of his generation".

Paper Geni

5. Astronomer Mervyn Ellison (1909-1963) was born 5 May in Fethard-on-Sea, Wexford, and grew up there and later in Armagh upon his father becoming director of the observatory.   He was educated at TCD (sci scholar 1930, BA 1931 with gold medal, MSc 1932).  His early career was spent teaching, for a year in Armagh and then at Sherborne School in Dorset (1933-1939). followed by work for the UK admiralty, all the while being engaged in astronomical observations.  TCD awarded him DSc (1944).  He was appointed to the Royal Obs Edinburgh (1947-1958), and finally Dunsink & DIAS (1958-1963).  He authored the book The Sun and its Influence (1955).

Wikipedia / BEA  / ADS

6. John de Courcy Short (1916-1942) was born in Wexford town, and was educated at TCD, where he was a Scholar in mathematics.  He died a few years later, a wartime victim of a German U-boat.

Death Cricket

7. Applied mathematician Cecil Graham (1939-2003) was born 25 February in Wells, near Kilmuckridge, Wexford, and was educated at first at TCD (scholar 1960, BA 1961).  Following a stint at Brown (MSc 1963+) he moved to Glasgow (PhD 1966), his thesis on "Contact Problems in the Linear Theory of Viscoelasticity" being done under Ian Sneddon.  His career started at Glasgow (1963-1966) and North Carolina State (1966-1967), following which he settled at Simon Fraser in Canada (1967-2003), where he also served as dept head.  He supervised 5 PhD students and authored 3 books.  He also spent time at DIAS (1974-1975, 1986-1987, 1988-1989).  He was very active in the Canadian Applied and Industrial Mathematics Society.

Death / CAIMS / Award


8. Meteorologist Ray Bates was born in Kilmore Quay, and was educated at UCD and MIT. After many years in the Met service, he worked at Goddard Space Flight Center, the University of Copenhagen, and UCD.


9. Dennis McLaughlin was born in Gorey, and was educated at UCD and Brown. After a spell as a mathematics and quantitative finance professor at Princeton, he moved into global risk management. He is now group chief risk officer for LCH.Clearnet in London.


10. Statistician Catherine Comiskey was born 16 Nov in Dublin, and grew up in New Ross. She was educated at TCD and DCU. She taught at ITT Dublin and Maynooth, and now heads up TCD's School of Nursing & Midwifery. She has supervised numerous doctorates in biomathematics and statistical epidemiology.

MGP MathSciNet TCD

11. Astronomer David Hobbs was born 31 Jan in Gorey, and was educated at IT Carlow, the University of Essex and TCD. His career has been spent mostly at Vienna, TERMA (Denmark), and then Lund Observatory. His research interests are in space astrometry.

Advisor Lund

12. Theoretical physicist Bernard Mulligan was born in Wexford town, and was educated entirely at TCD. He has worked at both the Max Plank and Langerhans Institutes in Dresden, and now teaches secondary school in Frankfurt.

13. Sinead Breen was born 29 Jul in Wexford town, and was educated at DCU. She taught at Maynooth before moving to St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra, where she has lectured in maths and carried out research in maths education, work she continues at DCU.

MGP MathSciNet DCU

14. Donal Healy was born in Ferns, and was educated entirely at UCD.  He taught for a while at the Institute of Technology in Tallaght, and now teaches at the secondary level in the UK.

15. Jane Breen was born 24 December in Wexford town, and was educated at Maynooth (BA 2012) and at Manitoba (PhD 2018), her thesis on "Markov Chains under Combinatorial Constraints: Analysis and Synthesis" being done under Steve Kirkland.  After a year at Iowa State University, she is now at Ontario Tech University.

Google / Ontario

16. Applied mathematician Justin McGuinness was born in Wexford town, and educated at UCC, where he recently completed his PhD on the hydrodynamic behaviour of arrays of wave power devices.  He now lectures at CIT.