Maths Ireland Map


Where does mathematics (Irish or otherwise) come from?  That's a tough conundrum, so let's ask a different question: where in Ireland do mathematicians come from?

The answer, of course, is "from all over the island", a reality made explicit in the map below.  Documenting the island's mathematical output county by county has long been a goal of ours, inspired in part by the late Mary Mulvihill's Atlas of Ingenious Ireland.

A series of 16 bi-monthly blogs at (which started in June 2017) sees us at roughly the midway point of a geographical tour of Ireland. People associated with Donegal, Wexford, Armagh, Limerick, Westmeath, Mayo, Belfast, Wicklow, Kerry, Galway, Monaghan, Tipperary, Sligo, Carlow, Down and Cork have been surveyed, with Cavan coming in late February 2020.  In the cases of Belfast, Galway and Cork we have yet to make it out of the 19th century.  Over the next three years, we aim to account for the rest of Ireland county by county, and bring the story for the larger urban areas up to the current day.

Here’s the big picture (2.5 MB, measuring about 3600 x 4000 pixels), as of 7 February 2020. Within each county names are listed in chronological order, top row to bottom row (and from left to right within each row). The same applies to the side listings for Belfast and Dublin.


(original map created by Dan Basceli)


This is to mark the completion of the 5th year of the Annals of Irish Mathematics and Mathematicians (AIMM). The map reflects the fact that mathematical talent has emerged from virtually every corner of Ireland. Unsurprisingly, sparsely populated areas produce proportionally fewer people, and Dublin and Belfast are responsible for more mathematicians than other regions.

Alas, there are a great many Irish maths people—including living ones—for whom the county of origin is not known. That's one reason that the displayed map is often updated, as more information comes to light. It may partially explain why the lists of names for Leitrim, Longford, Westmeath, Kildare and Meath are quite short.

County of origin is not always well-defined: a person could be born in Laois, and brought up in Limerick and then Waterford. (This kind of thing was common 50-150 years ago, especially if the father was an RIC man, a school inspector, bank manager or vicar.) Which county should get to claim the resulting mathematician? It's also tricky if one was born overseas (to parents Irish or otherwise), and then grew up in Ireland.

AIMM now documents over 4500 people (including those from overseas with Irish doctoral advisors) and 900 books. It includes people from abroad who spent significant periods of their careers in Ireland; in time, another version of this map will address this aspect of Irish maths (hence listing George Boole under Cork, Joseph Everett under Belfast, and William Gosset under Dublin, ).

This map will continue be adjusted, refined and polished over time. The jpg is based on a photoshop file with separate adjustable layers for each county, so it can be edited without difficulty to generate new versions. Comments and corrections are, as always, welcome.

Note: Getting the names of people listed close to the right region of the county (e.g., a Dingle born person shown west of Tralee) would be ideal but is not realisable for multiple reasons.


Names to be added: Dublin (O'Riordan).


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