The Atlas of Irish Mathematics: Tyrone (Jun 2021)

Our 25th bi-monthly regional Irish focused blog highlights mathematical people associated with Tyrone, 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, and Offaly.

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 Tyrone.

There are examples of maths people from the same family, including McFarlands, Russells and Harpers. Edgar Harper (1880-1916), who in 1912 secured a UCC maths physics professorship for which De Valera had applied, had 3 mathematical siblings: brothers Victor (1887-1964) and Ernest (1890-1915), and sister Margaret (1883-1922). Like Edgar, Ernest was a WWI casualty.  Having obtained a QUB scholarship in mathematical and physical sciences in 1910, he seems to have graduated in chemistry in 1913.

Some mathematical physicists are highlighted below of course, but we ignore purely experimental men such as the Nolan brothers (JJ & PJ) from Omagh, and Waterford-born Ernest Walton whose early family life included time in Tyrone.

Also omitted are mathematical men whose Tyrone connection hinges on their spending their later years as clergymen there, travellers on the venerable ecclesiastical "TCD to parish" pipeline. This category includes Robert Shawe (1699?-1752), John Pellissier (1703-1781), Thomas Meredith (1777-1819), Henry Harte (1790-1848), Thomas Stack (1847-1933), and Alfred Gillespie (1877-1961).

Future bishop William Meade (1832-1912) seems to have abandoned mathematics upon TCD graduation but started his parish work in Tyrone. Medic John Moore (1834?-1870) practiced in Tyrone, and school inspector Joseph Chambers (1860?-??) was based in Strabane in the 1901 census.

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

Thanks to Olivia Bree (SPD) for valuable input. Last updated 18 Feb 2024.


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01. Robert Park (1793-1876) was born 15 April in Stewartstown, Tyrone, and was educated at Glasgow (MA 1812). His career was spent as an influential clergyman in Ballymoney, Antrim.

Bio / Glasgow / 1817 Census


02. James MacCullagh (1809–1847) was born at Landahussey, just east of Plumbridge, Tyrone, and grew up there and near Strabane. He was educated at TCD (Scholar 1827, BA 1829, Fellow 1832, MA 1836, LLB & LLD 1838), and was Erasmus Smith's Professor of Mathematics (1836–1843) and then Erasmus Smith's Professor of Natural & Experimental Philosophy (1843-1847). He was very active in the RIA, serving as Secretary (1842-1846). In his too-short life he made many contributions to optics and geometry; Jellet & Houghton published his collected works in the early 1880s.

Wikipedia / MacTutor /DNB / Ulster Bio / Hist Soc Papers Buttimer Scaife

03. Thomas Stack (1813-1896) was born in Kilskeery, northeast of Enniskillen, Tyrone, and was educated at TCD (BA 1836+, MA 1840, DD), one of the college's first maths graduates. He became a Fellow in 1838 and was professor of Greek (1855-1866), Senior Fellow from 1869, bursar (1870-1872), registrar (1876–87), senior dean (1882-1892).

DIB / Wikitree

04. Edmund Meredith (1817-1899) was born in 7 October in Arntrea, east of Cookstown, Tyrone, his father Thomas being a mathematician.  He was educated at TCD (Scholar 1836, BA 1837+, LLB 1841), and at both Lincoln's Inn in London and King's Inn in Dublin. His career was spent in public service in Canada, first serving as principle of McGill College, and as lecturer of maths and natural philosophy there (1846-1847). For many years he worked in the higher ranks of the civil service for the government in Quebec, Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa (1847-1879). His greatest legacy was said to be his contribution to prison reform.

Wikipedia / DCB / McGill


05. Samuel Gunning (1836-1911) was born 17 March in Donagahadee, Down.  Nothing is known about his education, and while his career was spent as a bank manager (in Londonderry and Cookstown), he contributed maths to the Educational Times.

1901 Census / 1911 Census / Edu Times

06. W. Snow Burnside (1839–1920) was born 20 December near Fivemiletown, Tyrone, and was educated at TCD (BA 1862, MA 1866, Fellow 1871, DSc 1891), and taught there for over forty years. He was Erasmus Smith's Prof of Maths (1879–1914), and co-authored the influential book The Theory of Equations: With an Introduction to the Theory of Binary Algebraic Forms (1881). He was also a senior dean.

Wikipedia / Obit

06B. Benjamin Eyre (1845?-1895) was born in Benburb, Tyrone, and was educated at TCD (BA 1866).  His relatively short career was spent in law, in London. He died hiking in Valais, Switzerland.

06C. Ross Scott (1850?-1908) was born in Omagh, Tyrone, and was educated at Queen's Belfast (BA 1869, MA 1870). His career was spent in the civil service in India, where he served as judge.

Link Death

07. John MacFarland (1851-1935) was born 19 April in Omagh, Tyrone, older brother of Robert below.  He was educated at Queen's Belfast (BA 1871, MA 1872) and Cambridge (St John's, 26th wrangler 1876, MA 1879).  His career started at Repton School (Derbyshire), following which he emigrated to Melbourne University, where he focussed on administration and rose to the rank of chancellor.  RUI awarded him an honorary LLD (1892).

Wikipedia / Cambridge / Repton / Dic Ulster Bio / Aus Dict Bio / Geelong /


08. Christopher Graham (1851-1927) was born 28 Sept in Killeeshil, Tyrone, and brought up there and in Darver, Louth.  He was educated at TCD (BA 1873, MA 1877) and at Cambridge (Gonville & Caius, 3rd wrangler & Smith's Prize? 1878, MA 1881). He taught at Girton for 15 years, and then served for many years as inspector of schools in Ireland.

Cambridge / Link / 1901 Census / 1911 Census

09. Samuel Russell (1856-1917), older half-brother of Annie Maunder below, was born 10 February in Strabane, Tyrone, and was educated at Queen's Belfast (BSc 1877, MSc 1878). His career was spent in China, where he served as professor of maths and astronomy at Imperial College in Beijing, and later worked for the Imperial Maritime Customs.  His books included one on teaching Mandarin to the blind. He later lived in Manitoba, Canada.

Grave / IAJ / Book / Wikipedia


10. Robert MacFarland (1860-1922) was born 18 October in Omagh, Tyrone, younger brother of John above.  He was educated at Queen's Belfast (BA 1880) and Cambridge (Gonville and Caius, 9th wrangler 1883, MA 1890).  His career was spent teaching at Repton School (Derbyshire) and at Campbell College, serving as headmaster at the latter.

Cambridge / Repton / Campbell / Link



11. Henry Dawson (1862-1918) was born 2 August in Omagh, Tyrone, and was educated at TCD (BA 1882, Gold medal) and Cambridge (Christ's, 19th wrangler 1886, MA 1890).  His career was spent at Cambridge and Firth College, Sheffield (1901-1910), then back at Cambridge as an examiner at Christ's College.  He is remembered for the Dawson function.

Wikipedia / Cambridge / Paper


12. Margaret (Maud) Meyer (1862-1924) was born 3 September in Strabane, Tyrone, and grew up there, in Italy and in England.  She was educated at Girton (15th wrangler 1882), was an early member of the LMS, and in 1916 became one of the the first 6 female members of the RAS.  She taught at Notting Hill High School (1882-1888), then at the third level at Girton (1888-1918) and at University College London (1919-1924).  TCD awarded her an ad eundum MA (1907).

Wikipedia / Dict Nat Bio / Gazette / RAS / IEEE

13. Charles Robinson (1860?-1938--?) was born in Tyrone and was educated at TCD (BA 1884). His career was spent as a clergyman in Monaghan and Fermanagh.

1901 Census / 1911 Census


13B. William Roberts (1867-1942) was born 16 April in Dungannon, Tyrone.  He was an amateur astronomer and public lecturer, who also wrote a column on the topic for the Irish Independent.

Death / ADS

14. Astronomer Annie Russell (later Maunder, 1868-1947) was born 14 April in Strabane, Tyrone.  She was educated at Girton (BA earned 1889), where she was the highest ranked mathematics student.  She then taught at Jersey Ladies College for a year, before spending decades pursuing solar research at Greenwich Royal Observatory, often publishing her findings under her husband's name. Her older brother Samuel also did maths, at QUB.

Wikipedia / Irish Times / Bio / DIB

15. Thomas Stuart (1875-??) was born 8 February in Gortin, Edenderry, Omagh, Tyrone. He was educated at Queen's Galway (BA 1895, MA 1896, and DSc by exam 1900) and at Cambridge (BA 1902, MA 1906?).  His career was spent at Cardiff, Queen's Belfast, Woolwich, and then the University of Hong Kong (1913 to at least 1924).  

1901 Census / Edu Times

16. Doctor James Warnock (1879-1953) was born 26 June in Auglish, Cookstown, Tyrone. He was educated at first at Queen's College Galway (BA 1901, MA 1903, MB, BCh & BAO 1906, MD 1908), where he also taught physics for a year. His career was spent as a doctor in Leeds, England, where he had a particular interest in industrial medicine. He retained his interest in maths throughout his life.

1901 Census / Geni / Obit


17. Edgar Harper (1880-1916) was born in 4 July in Mullafgadun, Dungannon, Tyrone, and was educated at first at TCD (BA 1902). Most unusually, he then earned an RUI BSc (1904, via private study), and an RUI Travelling Studentship (and MSc) in 1905. After 2 years teaching at the Royal School back in Dungannon, he secured a post at Bangor (1907-1913). During his time there he co-authored the book Aerial Locomotion (Cambridge, 1911), a very early treatment of flying. In 1912 he successfully applied for the professor of maths physics position at UCC, a job for which Eamon de Valera was also famously considered. He held that position 1913-1915, before abandoning academia to fight for King and country. Starting with a May 1915 commission in the Royal Munster Fusiliers, it was as a member of the 8th Battalion of the South Staffordshire regiment that he died in July 1916 at the Somme offensive known as the Battle of Albert.  His younger siblings Margaret and Victor (see below) were also maths teachers.

1901 Census / Who's Who / War Dead / Nature / Book / MIB / AIMM

18. Felix Hackett (1882-1970) was born 16 August in Omagh, Tyrone, and was educated at first at UCD (BA 1902, BSc 1903, MA 1904), being awarded a Travelling Studentship in experimental science from the NUI. He earned his PhD from Johns Hopkins in 1908. He was on the physic staff of the Royal College of Science of Ireland (1910-1926) and UCD (1926-1952).

1901 Census / 1911 Census / Papers / Ulster Bio / Bio

19. George Nicholls (aka Seoirse Mac Niocaill, 1881-1968) was born on 27 June in Strabane, Omagh, and he grew up there, in Templemore, Tipperary, and in Dublin.  He was educated at TCD (scholar, BA 1904). His career started as a school teacher in England, then in 1912 he was appointed a school inspector in Ireland. He was very active in Conradh na Gaeilge, and his long tenure in the dept of education saw him oversee all instruction in Irish in the early years of the Free State. He had many maths books to his name, including Uimhrigheacht (1922), Algébar (1923–31), An Chéad Chéim san Ailgéabar (1935), and Céimseata Chomhordnaidhtheach (1939).

1901 Census / Bio / Ainm / Obit

20. Richard Beatty (1882-1941) was born 26 April in Dungannon, Tyrone, and was educated at first at Queen's Belfast (BA 1904, BE 1905, MA 1906). He taught physics at QUB, and also studied at Cavensish Lab in Cambridge. In WWII he was in the British Admiralty.

1901 Census / Nature / Link

21. Albert Elder (1882-1969) was born 17 November in Tamnavally, Arboe, in the middle of the western shore of Lough Neagh, Tyrone, and was educated at TCD (scholar 1905, BA 1906, MA). His career was spent as a clergyman in Kent, England.

1901 Census


22. Maths teacher Margaret Harper (1883-1922, sister of Edgar above and Victor below) was born 24 October in Dungannon, Tyrone. She taught in Newquay (Cornwall, 1904-1906) and then attended QUB. After a year teaching in Ballymena (1910-1911) she taught in England again (Cumbria) till at least 1918.  She died young.

1901 Census / 1911 Census

23. Clinical pathologist Sinclair Miller (1885-1961) was born 19 March in Cloughfin, west of Cookstown, Tyrone, and was educated at QUB (BSc 1908, MA 1910, BSc 1912, MB & BCh 1914). After WWI service he continued medical studies at London Hospital (DPH 1919, MD 1922, MRCP 1923). The rest of his career was spent in Harrogate, Yorks, where his expertise included rheumatism and diabetes and he set up early blood transfusion facilities.

1901 Census / 1911 Census Our Heroes / UK Nat Archives / BMJ Plaque

23B: Anna Patterson (1887-1966) was born 27 January in Cookstown, Tyrone, and was educated at Victoria College and Queen's, Belfast (BA 1909).  Her career was spent teaching, including in Lancashire (1930s).


24. Victor Harper (1887-1964, brother of Edgar and Margaret above) was born 13 February in Dungannon, Tyrone, and was educated at QUB (BA, 1908). He taught in England at first, and then at Campbell College (Belfast, 1915-1922). He spent the next 30 years as the headmaster of Lurgan College.

1901 Census / Campbell / Lurgan / Obit

25. Frederick Scott (1887-1972) was born 31 March in Omagh, Tyrone, and was educated at QUB (BA 1908, ME 1910). His career was spent as a civil engineer, mostly in South Africa, and his legacy includes several publications.

1901 Census / 1911 Census / Paper / Dam

26. Jim Murphy (1888-1939) was born 23 August in Sion Mills, Strabane, Tyrone, and grew up there and in Belfast.  He was educated at University of London (BA, 1912) and later at QUB (MSc 1924), with a thesis on "Mathematical Study of Time and Temperature in the Earth" done under William Morton.  He taught at the Belfast Mercantile College (starting in 1912-192), then at North Mon (Cork), and finally at Belfast Municipal College of Technology (from 1921 on).

1901 Census / 1911 Census / Obit

27. John Lavery (1891-1976) was born 14 June in Cookstown, Tyrone, and was educated at TCD (BA 1913). From 1920 on he worked in the Patent Office in London.

1901 Census / 1911 Census / Cookstown



28Frank Murnaghan (1893-1976) was born 4 August in Omagh, Tyrone. He was educated at UCD (BSc 1913, MSc 1914), where he earned an NUI Travelling Studentship, and at Johns Hopkins (PhD 1916). His thesis on "The Lines of Electric Force Due to a Moving Electron") was done under Harry Bateman. He later spent 30 years at Johns Hopkins and 10 more at Sao Paolo, supervising several PhD students and writing 16 books on various topics in mathematics and mathematical physics. NUI awarded him an honorary DSc (1940).

Wikipedia / MacTutor / RIA / 1901 Census / 1911 Census

29. Edwin Frizelle (1894-1915) was born 26 January in Ballysaggart, Dungannnon, Tyrone, and was educated at QUB (BA 1913, MA 1914). He intended pursuing medicine, but enlisted with the Lancashire Fusiliers. He was killed in action at the Dardanelles in August 1915.

1901 Census / 1911 Census / Bio / QUB

29B. Robert Simpson (1907-1984) was born 19 October in Dungannon, Tyrone, and was educated at QUB (BA 1929) and Cambridge (MA 1930?).  After teaching for a few years each at Larne Grammar School and Ballymena Academy, he became headmaster of the Omagh Academy, where he served for 34 years.

1911 Census / Omagh / Bio

30. Mathematical logician John Faris (son of Grace Acheson, 1913-2011) was born 15 March in Caledon, south of Dungannon, Tyrone, and was educated at Oxford (MA 1936). His entire career was spent at QUB (1936-1978). His books included Truth-Functional Logic (1962) and Quantification Theory (1964).


31. Tom Benson (1916-2020) was born 20 September in Dungannon, Tyrone, and was educated at QUB (BSc 1939).  He spent most of his career at Larne Grammar School, where he was a very influential maths teacher. He also taught briefly at Ballymena Academy and Belfast Royal Academy in the mid 1940s.


32. Mathematical physicist David Bates (1916-1994) was born 18 November in Omagh, Tyrone, and grew up there and in Belfast. He was educated at first at QUB (BSc 1937, MA 1938, with a thesis on "Recombination in the Upper Atmosphere" under Harrie Massey). His doctoral studies with Massey at University College London were interrupted by WWII, and never formally completed, but the two worked together extensively. UCL awarded him an honorary DSC in 1951, the year he returned to found the applied maths and theoretical physics dept at QUB. He worked in atmospheric and molecular physics, and had numerous doctoral students, not only there but also at Oxford. He was a founding member of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland.

Wikipedia / RAS / Independent / Ulster Bio / EGU

notable_photo 33. Derek Burgess Derek Burgess (1924-2004) was born 2 April in Londonderry and was educated at QUB, and at Cambridge, leading to a 1950 PhD ("Abstract Lebesgue-Stieltjes Integrals, Laplace-Stieltjes Transforms and Moment Problems, with Applications") with Frank Smithies.  After a few years in Paris and at Magee in Londonderry, he returned to QUB where he served for 4 decades.  He supervised several PhD theses in topology, and authored the 1966 textbook Analytical Topology.

34. Don McAlister was born 15 July in Belfast, and grew up in Ballinderry, Londonderry, and the Moy, Tyrone.  He was educated entirely at QUB (BSc 1962, MSc by thesis under Bob McFadden 1963, PhD 1966), his doctorate on "Multilattice Groups" being done under Derek Burgess.  He taught at QUB until 1970, when he moved to Northern Illinois University, retiring from there in 2002.


35. Theoretical physicist Derrick Crothers (1942-2021) was born 24 Jun in Belfast, and grew up there and in Cookstown, Tyrone. He was educated at Oxford (BA 1963) and QUB (PhD 1966). His thesis on "Theoretical Studies of Inelastic Atomic Collisions" was done under David Bates. He taught for 4 decades at QUB, supervising over 30 PhD students and writing 3 books, including Relativistic Heavy-Particle Collisions (2000). At the Northern Ireland Assembly election, 1973, he was elected for the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland in South Antrim.

QUB / Wikipedia / IOP / LinkedIn

36. Astrophysicist Dermott Mullan was born 10 January in Omagh, Tyrone, and was educated at QUB (BSc physics 1964, BSc app maths 1965) and at the Univ of Maryland at College Park (PhD 1969), his thesis on "Models of Hydromagnetic Shocks in Regions of Low Ionization" being done under Donat Wentzel. After 3 years at the Armagh Observatory, he spent the rest of his career at Delaware. His books include Physics of the Sun (2009).


37. Brendan Quigley was born in Lifford, Donegal, and mostly grew up in Strabane, Tyrone. He was educated at QUB (BA 1966?, MA 1967) and at Indiana University at Bloomington, Illinois (PhD 1970 on "Shape Theory, Approaching Theory and a Hurewicz Theorem" under Jan Jaworowski).  An algebraic topologist by training, he taught at UCD for 4 decades, where he was an early proponent of the use of LaTeX software.

38. Robert Northridge was born in Derry, and mostly grew up in Convoy, nerar Raphoe, Donegal and in Castlederg, Tyrone. He was educated at TCD (BA 1966) and Cambridge (PGCE 1972). He taught briefly in the West Indies and in Nigeria, and after a year at Coleraine, settled down at Portora. He taught maths there 1973-2010, and is now the school archivist. His books include The Flora of County Fermanagh (2012).

Fermanagh / Flora

39. Liam O’Carroll (1945-2017) was born 10 June in Strabane, Tyrone, and was educated at QUB (BSc 1966, MSc 1967, PhD 1970). Both his masters thesis on "Congruence Relations on Abstract Semigroups" and his doctoral thesis on "Contributions to the Theory of Partially Ordered Groupoids and Semigroups" were done under Bob McFadden. He spent 4 decades at Edinburgh, supervising 4 doctorates there.  His work was in commutative algebra, in particular uniform Artin–Rees theorems.

Interview / Death

40. Maths education expert and crossword setter Brian Greer was born on 25 October in Strabane, Tyrone. He was educated at Cambridge (Selwyn, BA 1966) and QUB (MA 1969, PhD 1973), his Belfast degrees being in educational psychology. His doctorate on "Thinking in Sets: a Study of Rule-learning in Children" was done under Billy Brown.  He taught for 3 decades at QUB, where he supervised many postgraduates in maths ed, and late taught at San Diego State and Portland Universities. The numerous books to his name include Making Sense of Data and Statistics in Psychology (Palgrave, 2002) and Culturally Responsive Mathematics Education (Routledge, 2009). He is also a veteran crossword puzzle creator, whom some know as “Brendan of the Guardian”. His puzzles have also appeared under the names Virgilius and Jed.

Puzzazz / Paper


41. Paul McGill was born in Omagh, Tyrone, and was educated at QUB (BSc 1968?, MSc 1969?, PhD 1973), his thesis on "Some Extensions of the Theory of Henstock Integration" being done under James McGrotty.  His career included stints at UCG (1973-1976), Coleraine (1976?-1984), Maynooth (1984-1987), UC Irvine (1987-1992?) and Univ Claude Bernard (Lyons).


42. Gus McNaughton was born in Omagh, Tyrone, and was educated at QUB (BA 1973). After some study on rings with Lisburn's John C. McConnell at Leeds, he spent his career as a software engineer in the Leeds area.



43. Statistician Peter McCullagh was born 7 January near Plumbridge, Tyrone, and was educated at Birmingham (BSc 1974) and Imperial College (PhD 1977), his thesis "Analysis of Categorical Ordered Data" being done under Tony Atkinson & David Cox.  He did a 2-year postdoc at the University of Chicago, followed by 6 years on the staff at Imperial, co-authoring the book Generalized Linear Models (Chapman & Hall, 1983).  Since 1985 he has been back at Chicago, where he has supervised numerous doctorates.


44. Colum Devine was born in Strabane, Tyrone, and was educated at Coleraine (BSc 1985?), QUB (MSc in CS, 1986?) and again at Coleraine (DPhil, 1990). Most of his career has been spent teaching in a secondary school in Birmingham.

45. Owen Gribbin was born in Strabane, Tyrone, and was educated at Coleraine (BSc 1985?. DPhil 1989), his thesis on "A Non‐parametric Competing Risks Model for Manpower Planning" being done under Sally McClean. His career has been spent teaching, currently at St Patrick's Academy in Dungannon.


46. Madonna Herron was born in England, and grew up there and in Clonoe, outside Coalisland, Tyrone. She was educated at Jordanstown (BSc 1994) and Coleraine (DPhil 1998), her thesis on signal processing being done under Bryan Scotney & Phillip Morrow. She taught at Jordanstown until 2016. She also plays trad Irish music.

47. Kieran Hughes was born in Dungannon, Tyrone, and grew up in Carraroe, Sligo.  He was educated at first at DCU (BSc 1997), and then worked in the financial world and as a teacher.  He continued his education at the Open University (MSc 2016), and started lecturing at IT Sligo. His 2020 PhD on "Derivations of Group Algebras with Applications" was done under Leo Creedon.

IT Sligo / ResearchGate

48. Timothy Patterson was born in Cookstown, Tyrone, and was educated at Coleraine (BSc 2009, DPhil 2013), his thesis being done with Sally McClean. His career has been spent at Jordanstown.