The Atlas of Irish Mathematics: Westmeath (Feb 2018)


Starting in June 2017, we've taken bi-monthly looks at the careers of some mathematically trained people associated with various counties of Ireland, specifically, Donegal, Wexford, Armagh and Limerick. This month, we head inland and focus on Westmeath people.

As usual, those listed generally started with a degree in maths, maths physics, statistics or a related field.

Of course, some lives (and careers) drifted far from the mathematics studied in university. 

The information below is extracted from the Annals of Irish Mathematics & Mathematicians, which currently documents over 3600 people. Its spin-off Atlas of Irish Mathematics highlights some of the more notable careers, county by county. Corrections, as always, are welcome.

Last updated 19 July 2021.



 0. Thomas Gray (1833-1924) was born near Drumraney, Westmeath, NE of Athlone, and was educated at TCD (Scholar 1852, BA 1855+, MA 1859, Fellow 1862, Senior Fellow). He spent his 6 decade plus career there, switching from maths to classics. He also served as dean, bursar, and registrar, and vice provost until just before his death.  1901 Census / 1911 Census / Grave / Obit   


1. Robert Baile (1839-1914) was born in Castlebellingham, Louth, and was educated at TCD, graduating in his late 30s. He taught "mathematics, electricity, and magnetism" (among other subjects) for over 30 years (starting in 1878) at the Ranelagh School in Athlone (shown here), where he also served as principal or headmaster. This elegant school had been built on the west river bank in 1764 by Richard Jones, 1st Earl of Ranelagh, "to provide free education for the children of poor protestants". It closed in 1936, and the buildings were later used by Gentex textile works, before being demolished in 1991.

Baile (sometimes recorded as Bailie) is credited with contributing to the book Elements of Plane Trigonometry fot the Use of School, and Students in Universities (Alexander Thom & Co, 1885) by TCD graduate Issac Warren.

1901 Census / 1911 Census


 2. Marjorie J. Long (1886-1937) was born 16 July in Arklow, Wicklow, and grew up there and in Mullingar and Dundalk.  She was educated at Girton (4th wrangler), her performance being the best by any Cambridge woman since 1890.  She received an RUI BA (1908) as a result, and was ranked the top mathematics graduate in Ireland. The Educational Times (1 Jul 1909, page 274) reported that in the Cambridge Mathematical Tripos Part II, "Miss Marjorie Long (North London Collegiate School and Girton), equal to the Fourth Wrangler of last year, is placed (with two men) in Class I, Division 2."  In 1910, she submitted the paper "On Geiser's Method of Generating a Plane Quartic" to the Proceedings of the LMS. She taught at Bedford College (at least 1911-1922).  She translated the influential book Lezioni di calcolo differenziale assoluto (Alberto Stock Editore, 1925) by Tullio Levi-Civita, ed by Enrico Persico, as Absolute Differential Calculus (Blacktie & Son, 1927).  She worked in the library of the International Labour Office in Geneva in the 1930s.

1901 Census / 1908 / Death


 3. Arthur West (1892-1916) was born in Leeds, and grew up in Mayo and Westmeath (his father worked for the Inland Revenue). He attended the Ranelagh school and also Mountjoy School in Dublin. He was educated at TCD, where he was president of the Philosophical Society. Soon after graduating in maths---in the same class as physicist John (Jackie) Poole---he died in action in France.

Census 1 / Our Heroes


4. John Desmond Parsons (1907-1968) was born 18 January in Athlone, Westmeath. He was educated at TCD, and is alleged to have obtained a master's there for a thesis on "Solution with Axial Symmetry of Einstein's Equations of Teleparallelism" (presented at the Nov 1931 meeting of the Edinburgh Mathematical Society and then published by the Proceedings of the EMS). Information about his subsequent career would be very welcome.

Census 2 Grave


5. Mathematical physicist Ciaran Ryan (1934-1973) was born in Athlone, Westmeath, and brought up mostly in Longford.  He was educated at Maynooth and the Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies, earning his 1962 PhD on "A Doublet scheme for the Leptons and On a Generalised Commutation Relation" under Lochlainn O'Raifeartaigh.  A priest too, he taught at the University of Rochester and then at UCD, and co-authored the book Theory of Weak Interactions in Particle Physics (Wiley, 1969). He died young in a mountaineering accident near Geneva, soon after supervising the PhD of Sean Brown (1945?-1981).  

Obit / Web


6. Mathematical physicist Dermott McCrea (1934-1993) was born 25 April in Athlone, Westmeath. He was educated at UCG, Louvain, and the Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies.  His 1965 PhD on "Gravitational Radiation" was done under John L. Synge, and was published by the DIAS (1968).  He was also a Franciscan priest.  Most of his career was spent at UCD, where he developed EXCALC, an early computer algebra system for doing calculations in quantum theory and relativity.  Both Peter Hogan and Gráinne O'Brien were his PhD students.  He co-wrote Algebraic Computing in General Relativity (Oxford, 1994)

Medal / Book


7. Paddy Barry (1934-2021) was born 20 October in Ballynacargy, outside Mullingar, and grew up in Glenville and Mallow, Cork.  He was educated at UCC and the University of London, completing his PhD on "The Minimum Modulus of Integral Functions of Small Order" under Walter Hayman in 1959. After a postdoc at Stanford, he taught for 4 decades at UCC, as professor of maths and for many years dept chair too.  He was responsible for 3 books: George Boole; a Miscellany (Cork University Press, 1969), the influential Geometry with Trigonometry (Horwood, 2001), and Advanced Plane Geometry (Logic Press, 2019).



8. Historian of physics and astronomy John Roche was born 26 June in Athlone, Westmeath, and grew up in Rahoon, Galway.  He was at first educated at UCG. After a decade of teaching at a secondary school in Kenya, he obtained his 1977 PhD on "Thomas Harriot's Astronomy" from Oxford under John North.  He then tutored the history of physics and astronomy for over 30 years at Linacre College, Oxford, as well as applied physics at Oxford Brookes University. He's currently associated with Wycliffe Hall at Oxford.



9. Mathematics educator Olivia Fagan (later Bree) was born 3 July in Mullingar, Westmeath.  She was educated at UCG where she was awarded an NUI Travelling Studentship Prize. Her career was spent at St Patrick's College, Drumcondra, where she also served as registrar.



10. Biostatistician Marie Reilly was born 15 March in Multifarnham, Weatmeath. She earned physics and stats degrees at UCG, and then taught at Kevin St and at the Medical Lab Training Project in Lesotho.  Her 1991 PhD on "Semi-parametric Methods of Dealing with Missing or Surrogate Covariate Data" was done under Cork's Margaret O'Sullivan Pepe at the University of Washington in Seattle.  After spells at UCD and UCC, she settled at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, where she has supervised several PhDs.



11. Education expert Tony Kelly (aka Anthony Elliott-Kelly) was born in Athlone, Westmeath.  He was educated at first at Maynooth (BSc 1978) and Cambridge (MA 1979).  He later did an MSc at Heriot-Watt (1988) under Robert Craik, and PhD on "The Management and Administration of Irish Post-Primary Schools" at Hull (1996).  His career since 2001 has been spent at Southampton.  He focusses on the theory of educational effectiveness and improvement as it relates to educational leadership, higher education, governance and policy analysis.  His is co-creator on the Lab in a Lorry street physics initiative.  His 7 books include Decision-making through Game Theory. (Cambridge, 2003).

Wikipedia / Southampton / LinkedIn / ResearchGate / Conversation


12. Statistician Catherine Finneran was born near Athlone, Westmeath, and was educated at UCG. She has had a long career at the Central Statistics Office, and was married to Dave Jennings (1949-2009), a UCC grad and Travelling Studentship winner whose career was also at the CSO.



12B. Susan MacDonald was born in Mullingar, Westmeath, and was educated at Maynooth (BA 1983, MA 1986, PhD 2008+).  Her thesis on "The Paradigm Shift from Euclid to a Composite System of Geometry in Intermediate Certificate Mathematics in Ireland, 1966-1973" was done with Richard Watson & John Coolahan.  Her whole career has been spent at WIT (SETU).



13. Statistician David Madigan was born in Athlone, Westmeath, and was educated at TCD.  His 1990 PhD on "An Investigation of Weights of Evidence in the Context of Probablilistic Expert Systems" was done there under Kris Mosurski.  His career has been spent at the University of Washington in Seattle, Rutgers, and Columbia University (where he has also served as dean).  He has supervised 18 PhD students.



14. Theoretical physicist Ralph Kenna was born 27 August on the Roscommon side of Athlone, and was educated at first at TCD (BA 1985, MSc 1988).  His 1993 PhD on "Nullstellen der Zustandssumme und Renormierungsgruppen-Analyse im ϕ^4_4 Modell" was done under Christian Lang at Graz.  After several years each at Liverpool and TCD, in 2002 he settled at Coventry.  His interests include phase transitions in statistical mechanics and critical phenomena, as well as digital humanities and sociphysics.  He has supervised 8 PhD students and co-authored the book Maths Meets Myths: Quantitative Approaches to Ancient Narratives (2017).

Wikipedia / Coventry


15. Applied mathematician Mike Lough was born in Athlone, Westmeath, and was educated at UCD and Caltech.  His 1994 PhD on "The Motion of Thin-Cored Vortex Filaments: The Equations of Motion and their Solution for Some Special Cases" was done under Philip Saffman. He then worked at JPL for a while, before switching to finance.

 16. Theoretical physicist Colm Connaughton was born in Westmeath, and was educated at TCD and Warwick.  His 2002 PhD on "New Directions in Wave Turbulence" was done under Alan Newell & Sergey Nazarenko.  After a few years at  ENS (Paris) and Los Alamos, in 2007 he settled back at Warwick.  He has supervised 2 PhDs.
 17. Theoretical physicist Clodagh Carroll was born in Delvin, Westmeath, and was educated at UCC.  Her 2010 PhD on "Supersymmetric Quantum Stochastic Analysis" was done under Stephen Wills.  She works at CIT.
 18. Statistician Marie Galligan was born in Westmeath and educated at Limerick and UCD.  Her 2013 PhD on "Novel Statistical Methods for the Analysis of Glycan Chromatography Data for Biomarker Discovery and Validation" was done under Brendan Murphy and Pauline Rudd.  She works at UCD.
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