The Atlas of Irish Mathematics: Longford (Oct 2021)

Our 27th bi-monthly regional Irish focused blog highlights mathematical people associated with Longford, following on Donegal, Wexford, Armagh, Limerick, Westmeath, Mayo, Belfast, Wicklow, Kerry, Galway, Monaghan, Tipperary, Sligo, Carlow, Down, Cork, Cavan, Laois, Londonderry, Meath, Leitrim, Dublin, Clare, Offaly, Tyrone, and Kilkenny.

As usual, there are probably Irish maths (or maths ed or stats or actuarial or theoretical physics) people missing from this blog because while we know about them we don't yet know they are from Longford.

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

Thanks to Olivia Bree (SPD) and David Malone (Maynooth) for valuable input. Last updated 22 October 2021.


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01. Theaker Wilder (1717-1777?) was born in  Abbeyshrule, Longford, and was educated at TCD (scholar 1736, BA 1738, MA 1741, fellow 1744, BD 1748, DD 1753), where he also spent his entire career.  He was Donegall Lecturer in Maths (1759-1760) and then the first regius professor of Greek, before engaging in parish work in Donegal.  He also served at TCD senior registrar and librarian, and finished an edition of Newton's Universal Arithmetick (1769) started by his TCD colleague James Maguire. He had a reputation for cruelty and irascibility, and history remembers him for his less than collegial interactions with Oliver Goldsmith and Edmund Burke.

Wikipedia / Bio / Book

02. Statistician and economist Francis Edgeworth (1845-1926) was born 8 February in Edgeworthstown, Longford.  He was educated at TCD (scholar 1863, BA languages 1865) and at Oxford (law 1877). He taught at King's College, London (1880-1891) and Oxford (1891-1922).

Wikipedia / MacTutor / AskObit / Enc Brit

03. William Willson (1843-1876) was born 5 December in Longford and was educated at TCD (scholar 1864, BA 1865, LCE 1866, MA 1870).  His very short career was spent in Calcutta, where he lectured at Kishnagaria College, and later at Presidency College.  He was also meteorological reporter to the Bengal government, and authored textbooks on dynamics, mechanics and statics.  His brothers below were also TCD maths graduates.

Obit / Books

04. James Willson (1846-1923) was born 25 February in Lanesborough, Longford, and was educated at TCD (scholar 1868, BA 1869, MA 1873).  Like his brother above, he went to India to lecture in science and maths.  His career included stints at Cathedral Mission College (Calcutta, 1870-1871)  Hooghly College (Chinsurah, West Bengal, 1873), Dacca College (Bangladesh, 1874-?), Patna College  (Bihar, 1876-1877-?).  He also worked for the Geological Survey of India (1871-1873) and as an inspector of schools (Assam, 1888-1893-?).  He was in England in 1901, and was settled in Galway by 1911.  He was in Tyrone in 1922.

1871 / 1911 Census

05. Engineer Frederick Willson (1847-1932) was born 18 December in Rathcline, Lanesborough, Longford, and was educated at TCD (BA 1870, BAI 1873).  His career was spent as an engineer in Ireland, including 2 decades as county surveyor of Fermanagh.

1901 Census / 1911 Census


06. Engineer Atwell Thompson (1864-1912) was born 14 May in Granard, Longford, and was first educated at Queen's Galway (BSc 1887) where he had a senior scholarship in maths.  He then got an engineering degree (from Oxford?, 1886) and spent much of his relatively short career in the USA.

DIA / Grave

07. William Anderson (1867-1950) was born 24 March in Rathmore, Longford, and was educated at TCD (BA 1890, MA 189x), having already earned an RUI BA (1889).  His career was spent at Mountjoy School. where he served as headmaster (1896-1939).

1901 Census / 1911 Census / Prize


08. George Harris (1879-1935) was born 27? October in Longford town, and was educated at TCD (BA 1902, MA 1915).  His career was spent in the civil service in Belfast.

1901 Census / 1911 Census / 1927

09. William Lloyd (1880-1951) was born 22 November in Caven, Ballinalee, and was educated at TCD (BA 1903, MA 1906?).  His career was spent teaching in Belfast, at Methodist College (1906-1924) then at Stranmillis Training College (1924-1946).

1901 Census / Death



10. Mathematical physicist Ciaran Ryan (1934-1973) was born in Athlone, Westmeath, and was brought up mostly in Longford.  He was educated at Maynooth (BSc 1955, MSc 1957) and the Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies, earning his 1962 PhD there 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 Genevasoon after supervising the PhD of Sean Brown (1945?-1981).  

Obit / Web

11. Physicist Aodhagán Roddy (1941-2011) was born 15 February in Longford town, and grew up south of there in Ballymahon.  He was educated at UCG (BSc 1962, MSc in physics 1963), and at Edinburgh (PhD 1967).  His thesis on "The Formation of Condensation Nuclei in City Air, by Ultraviolet Radiation of Wavelength Greater Than 2900A" was done under G. R. Evans. Following a few years at Colodaro State, he returned to spend the rest of his career at Galway (1969-2006), where he supervised several PhD students.  He was a founding members of the Irish Meteorological Society in 1981, and served as its President for many years.

Bio / Death / Grave


12. Rory Hearne (1942-1988?) was born somewhere in Longford. He was educated at UCD (BSc 1966) and then at Aberytwyth (stats MSc).  He is believed to have worked at the CSO before settling down at An Foras Forbartha.  He died relatively young.  His legacy included a method, using fairly sophisticated statistical techniques, for locating stretches of the national roads that were high risk for accidents, as well as some early surveys of seat belt usage.


13. Dave Clarke was born in Edgeworthstown Longford, and was educated at first at Limerick (BSc 1992). Later he got a Tech Mgt degrees from UCC (MSc 2009). He now works in data analytics, in Cork.


14. Derek McHugh was born in Dublin and grew up there and in Longford town.  He was educated at TCD (BA 1999, MSc in CS 2000) and at Maynooth (PhD 2005).  His thesis on "Trapped-Ion Spin Molecules: Design and Control" was done under Jason Twamley. After 5 years at UCD, he went into data science, first at Zurich Ins (2012-2018) and now at Kitman Labs in Dublin.


15. David Conlon was born in August in Sligo, and grew up in Lanesborough, Longford.  He was educated at TCD (BA 2003) and Cambridge (Tripos Part III 2004, PhD 2009).  His thesis on "Upper Bounds for Ramsey Numbers" was done with Tim Gowers.  He taught for a decade at Oxford, giving an invited talk on "Combinatorial Theorems Relative to a Random Set" at the 2014 ICM in Seoul, before moving to Caltech.


16. Actuary James Keogh was born in Longford town and was educated at DCU (BSc 2010). 


17. Brendan Masterson was born in Dublin and grew up in Longford town.  He was educated entirely at NUIG (BA 2009, MA 2011, PhD 2016), his thesis on "On the Table of Marks of a Direct Product of Finite Groups" being done under Götz Pfeiffer.  His career so far has been at Middlesex Univ in London.