The Atlas of Irish Mathematics: Meath (Aug 2020)

Our 20th bi-monthly regional Irish focused blog highlights mathematical people associated with Meath, following on Donegal, Wexford, Armagh, Limerick, Westmeath, Mayo, Belfast, Wicklow, Kerry, Galway, Monaghan, Tipperary, Sligo, Carlow, Down, Cork, Cavan, Laois (formerly Queen's County).

Of course the best known Irish mathematical person associated with this eastern county was Dubin-born Hamilton. Then, it seems, there is a very big gap before the next Meath maths person. There are very few people overall, especially for a large county just north of the capital. One reason is probably that there are Irish maths people who are from Meath but not yet identified by us as being from there.

Comments, additions and corrections are, as always, welcome. As are more photographs.

Thanks to Olivia Bree (SPD) for valuable input. Last updated 15 Aug 2021.


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1. Ireland's greatest mathematician and mathematical physicist William Hamilton (1805-1865) was born 4 August in Dublin. He grew up mostly in Trim, Meath, from the age of 3.  He was educated at TCD (BA 1827, MA 1837, LLD 1839), where he spent his whole career. His extensive legacy includes innovations in algebra, mechanics and optics. He invented quaternions, a non-commutative algebraic system predating matrices.

Wikipedia / MacTutor / TCD / DIB / Papers / Enc Brit / Enc / Hamilton Walk

2. Astronomer and and astrophysicist Mary Conway (aka Máire Ní Chonmhidhe, later Brück, 1925-2008) was born 29 May in Ballivor, Meath, and was educated at first in physics at UCD (BSc 1945, MSc 1946), earning an NUI Travelling Studentship.  She went to Edinburgh (PhD 1950), her thesis on "Studies of Hα Line Profiles in Prominences" being done under Irishman Mervyn Ellison).  She had actually been at Dunsink since 1947, and in 1957 moved to a position at the Royal Obs Edinburgh with husband Hermann Brück (see above) when he was appointed as director of the Royal Obs there.  She also held a position at Univ Edinburgh (1972-1987).  Her extensive publications include the books The Night Sky (1965), Agnes Mary Clerke and the Rise of Astrophysics (2002) and Women in Early British and Irish Astronomy: Stars and Satellites (2009).

Wikipedia / Irish Times / Scotsman / ADS

3. Statistician John F Connolly was born in February and grew up part in Kells, Meath. He was educated at UCC (BSc 1965, HDip 1966), Reading (MSc 1968) and TCD (PhD 1979). His thesis on "The Design and Analysis of Mixed Grazing Experiments" was done under Gordon Foster. After a spell at Teagasc he joined UCD, where he served for 25 years, including a stint as head of statistics  His research interests are in agricultural and ecological and biological statistics, and he supervised several PhD students.


4. Colm Nicholas Kelly was born in Navan, Meath, and educated at UCG (BSc 1971, MSc 1972). No career information is known.

5. Tom Brady was born in Kilbride, Meath, and was educated at TCD (BA 1982) and Cornell (PhD 1988). His thesis on "The Integral Cohomology of Out_+(F_3)" was done under Marshall Cohen and Karen Vogtmann. After spells at Univ Michigan and Brigham Young, he settled at DCU, where he has supervised 2 PhD students. His interests are in geometric group theory and combinatorics.


6. Fergus Gaughran was born in Navan, Meath, and was educated at UCD (BSc 1985, MSc 1986, PhD 1990). His thesis on "The Pluricomplex Green Function with an Infinite Number of Poles" was done under Sean Dineen. After spells teaching at Lock Haven Univ and IT Tallaght he switched careers. He has worked at AIB and is now head of risk analysis at Ulster Bank.



7. Noel Brady (brother of Tom above) was born in Kilbride, Meath, and was educated at TCD (Scholar, BA 1988) and Berkeley (PhD 1993). His thesis on "The Geometry of Asynchronous Automatic Structures on Groups" was done under John Stallings. After postdocs at Utah and Cornell, he settled at the Univ Oklahoma, where he recently served as dept head. He has supervised 4 PhD students, and co-authored the book The Geometry of the Word Problem for Finitely Generated Groups (2007). His interests are in
geometric group theory and low dimensional topology.


8. Shane (Nirbasa) McGee was born in Summerhill, Meath, and was educated at TCD (BA Physics 2000?, PhD 2005). His thesis on "Simulated Annealing of Skyrme Model Configurations" was done under Conor Houghton. He worked in healthcare in Iceland before focussing on ultra running.


9. Stephen Scully was born 20 Feb in Navan, Meath, and was educated at UCD (BAFS 2007), Cambridge (Tripos Part III 2009) and Nottingham (PhD 2013). His thesis on "Quasilinear Forms, Milnor K-theory, and Function Fields of Hypersurfaces in Positive Characteristic" was done under Detlef Hoffman & Alexander Vishik. After postdocs at MPI (Bonn) and Univ Alberta in Edmonton, he is now at the University of Victoria. His interests include quadratic and higher degree forms, and projective homogeneous varieties.


10. Brendan Murray was born Kells, Meath. He was educated at Maynooth (BSc maths & th phy 2012), TCD (MSc 2013), and UCD (PhD 2017+). His master's included a thesis in High Performance Computing done under Dermot Frost. His doctoral thesis on "Fourier Phase Dynamics in Turbulent Non-Linear Systems" was done under Miguel Bustamante. He works for Arista Networks.

ResearchGate / LinkedIn