The Atlas of Irish Mathematics: Kilkenny (Aug 2021)


Our 26th bi-monthly regional Irish focused blog highlights mathematical people associated with Kilkenny.  This marks the completion of 4 years of monthly blogs, and follows on geographical focusses 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, and Tyrone.

The big names from Kilkenny from earlier times are contemporaries Richard Helsham and George Berkeley, after which there appears to be a gap of well over a century.

We omit people whose Kilkenny connection isn't mathematical, such as: TCD grad Hugh Hamilton (1729-1805) whose later ecclesiastical career saw him serve as bishop of Ossory (Kilkenny), Galway grad Henry Thynne (1838-1915) whose RIC career took him to Kilkenny, and Belfast grad William McClintock (1859-1932) whose schools inspector job included time served in Kilkenny.

As usual, there are probably Irish maths or theoretical physics (or maths ed or stats or actuarial) people missing from this blog because while we may know about them we don't yet know they are from Kilkenny.  Also, there are undoubtedly instances where the designation "born in Kilkenny" could refer to the city or more generally to the county but we don't know which is more accurate.

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 3 Nov 2023.

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01. Mathematician and physician Richard Helsham (1683-1738) was born in Leggetsrath, Kilkenny, and was educated at TCD (Scholar 1700, BA 1702, Fellow 1704, MA 1705, MD 1713, Senior Fellow 1714). He was the 6th Donegall Lecturer of Maths (1723-1730) and served as the inaugural Erasmus Smith's Professor of Natural & Experimental Philosophy (1724-1738). He was also regius professor of physic (1733-1738) and was a renowned practicing physician. His influential Lectures on Natural Philosophy book was published posthumously (1739).

Wikipedia / DIB


02. Philosopher George Berkeley (1685-1753) was born on 12 March in Castle Dysert, near Thomastown, Kilkenny.  He was educated at TCD (Scholar 1702, BA 1704, MA & Fellow 1707, BD & DD 1722). He taught Greek there briefly, and published extensively about philosophy and physics, also writing an influential critique of the foundations of calculus. His last two decades were spent as the Bishop of Cloyne. Berkeley in California is named after him (though pronounced differently).

Wikipedia / MacTutor Enc Brit

03. James Kavanagh (1818-1886) was born in September in Graiguenamanagh, Kilkenny; nothing is known about his education.  He taught primary school from 1834 to at least 1842, was an inspector for the Nat Board of Education from at least 1844 to 1858, and lectured on elementary maths at Catholic Univ (later UCD) 1859-1880.  He was an examiner for the Intermediate Board of Education at the end of his life.  He authored the books Arithmetic, its Principles and Practice (1844) and Mixed Education, The Catholic Case Stated (1859).

Bio / Web / Family

04. Arthur Gore (1829-1913) was born in Kilkenny, and was educated at TCD (BA 1852+, MA 1858).  His career was spent as a clergyman in England.

Wikipedia / Bio / Prabook

05. Thomas McCreery (1831-1877) was born 24 August in Kilkenny and was educated at TCD (BA 1854+) where he "obtained mathematical honours".  His career was spent as a clergyman in Ireland, and he died relatively young.


06. Philosopher and astronomer William Monck (1839-1915) was born 21 April in Skeirke near Borris in Ossory, Queen's County, and grew up in Kilkenny. He was educated at TCD (BA ethics & logic 1861) and spent part of his career at TCD (Prof of Moral Philosophy 1878-1892). He was also called to the bar served as Chief Registrar in the Bankruptcy Division of the High Court of Ireland. His books include ones on astronomy, and he contributed maths to the Educational Times.

Wikipedia / Bio / Astronomy / Chess / Edu Times


07. Doctor William Blunden (1840-1923) was born 25 July in Dublin, and grew up there and in Kilkenny.  He was educated at TCD (scholar 1860, BA 1862, MB 1876) and at the RCSI (Licenciate 1876, LMKQCPI 1877).  He worked as doctor in rural New Zealand for over 2 decades, then returned to Kilkenny, where he served as High Sheriff of the county (1904-1905).

Wikitree / Family / Debrett's / Link / NZ doctor / 1911 Census

08. Arthur Lyster (1860?-1928) was born in Goresbridge, east Kilkenny, and was educated at TCD (scholar 1883, BA 1885, MA 1889).  His career included a stint as assistant at Dunsink (1892-1896) following which he taught at King's Hospital School in Dublin.  He authored Mathematical Facts and Formulae (1899).  TCD has a prize named after him.

1901 Census / 1911 Census / Dunsink



09. John Burke (1874?- ) was born in Cork, and was prof of maths at St Kieran's in Kilkenny (1899-1901).

1901 Census / ?1911 Census?


10. Edward Cody (1873?- ) was born in Kilkenny and was ordained in Maynooth in 1897 for the diocese of Ossory.  He was  prof of maths at St Kieran's there (1898-1902).

1901 Census

11. Reginald Rogers (1874-1923) was born 10 August in Kilkenny city and was educated at TCD (BA 1896+, MA & Fellow 1901).  His career was spent at TCD, where he also served as junior dean (1915-1919) and Donegall Lecturer.  He revised and considerably expanded the 5th edition of George Salmon's A Treatise on the Analytic Geometry of Three Dimensions (two volumes, 1912 & 1915).  He also published verse, and wrote on time-direction, logic, and ethics.

1901 Census / 1911 Census / Obit

12. Michael Power (aka Mícheál de Paor, 1885-1974) was born 2 April in Piltown, Kilkenny, and was educated at UCD (BA 1907, MA 1908, BSc 1909).  He was awarded an NUI Travelling Studentship Prize in 1909 and a Travelling Studentship in 1910. After a few years at UCD he was appointed to UCG (1912-1955).  He co-authored the 1950s book Nótaí ar mhion-áireamh with Máirtín Ó Tnúthail (Martin Newell).  His daughter Sheila became a maths physicist.

1901 Census / 1911 Census / IMS

13. Charles Sandvoss (1886-1951) was born 16 December in Dublin.  The bulk of his career was spent as prof of science and maths at St Kieran's, Kilkenny (1911-1951).  His son Noel (below) also taught there for a few years.

1901 Census / 1911 Census / Death

14. Con Gregg(1888-1959) was born 26 January in Kilkenny city, and he was educated at UCD (BA 1909).  He had a distinguished career as a civil servant, first in London, then in Dublin (1922-1924), and then in London again.

1901 Census / DIB


15. Patrick J. Dowling (1888-1972) was born 18 March in Kilmurry, Slieverue, Kilkenny.  He was educated at first at UCD (BSc Chem 1909?, HDip 1913, MA 1914), his master's thesis being on "Use of Memory and Imagination in Mathematics and Science".  He taught in Waterford and Kilkenny, and from 1924 on in England, learning a PhD on "The Popular Catholic School in Ireland" at the Univ of London (1929), where he later lectured in the education department.  The first of his 2 books grew out of his PhD.

1901 Census / 1911 Census / Bio / Book1 / Book2/

16. Stanley Troughton (1900-1976) was born 14 September in Kilkenny city, and was educated at TCD (BA 1923, MA 192x).  His career was spent as a clergyman in Rhodesia.

1901 Census / 1911 Census / Rugby / Grave


17. Charles Barrett (1903-1944) as born 13 Dec in Kilkenny city, and grew up there, and in Tralee, Kerry, and in Cork.   He was educated at UCD (BSc, 1926) and became a Jesuit.  He taught at Mongret (Limerick) and then at Clongowes (Kildare), dying relatively young.

1911 Census / Bio

18. Noel Sandvoss (1912-1956) was born 22 December in Kilkenny city, and was educated at Maynooth (BSc 1934).  He was ordained in 1938, and then spent time in Nigeria and in chaplain and parish work in Ireland.  After another stint in Nigeria, he was prof of maths at St Kieran's in Kilkenny (1947-1956) until his untimely death.  His father Charles (above) had taught there for 40 years.

Death / Cousin

19. Bill Stephens (1913-2001) was born 18 March in Gowran, east Kilkenny, and grew up there and in Belfast.  He was educated at QUB (BSc 1934, MSc 1935).  His entire career was spent in ballistics in Britain, where his work included developing the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile.

Guardian / Telegraph

20. Philosopher Edmund Furlong (1913-1996) was born 20 April in Belfast and grew up in Kilkenny.  He was educated at TCD (scholar 1933, BA 1935, MA 1938, fellow 1947) and at Oxford (studying with Cook Wilson 1937-1938).  His career was at TCD (1949-1983) where he authored several books.

Obit / Family

21. Economist Ray Crotty (1925-1994) was born 22 January in Kilkenny, and started his career as a pig farmer. Eventually, he was educated in econ at Univ London (BSc by correspondence 1959) and LSE (MSc 1961).  He then taught agricultural econ for a while at Aberystwyth, and later worked as a economic advisor.  He ended his career at TCD (1982-1993) working in Gordon Foster's Systems Development programme.  He did not teach stats there, despite the rumours.  He was known for his lifelong opposition to Irish membership of the EEC/EU.

Wikipedia Book

22. Jim Muldowney (1939-2022) was born 25 December near Thomastown, Kilkenny, and was educated at UCG (BSc 1960, MSc 1961) and Alberta (PhD 1966).  His thesis on "Analyticity and Asymptotics of Jost Functions" was done under Francis Baragar.  After 2 years at Univ Oklahoma (Norman), he returned to the Univ Alberta, in Edmonton, from which he officially retired in 2009, having supervised 3 PhD students.  His brother Pat (below) is also a mathematician.

ResearchGate / LinkedIn / Obit

23. Michael N. Brennan was born in Kilkenny City and was educated at first at UCC (BSc 1965, HDip).  He taught secondary school, including at Our Lady's Bower in Athlone (1978-1982), getting an MSc (1982) from Maynooth along the way.  He then lectured at RTC Waterford (later WIT, 1985-2009), where he was instrumental in setting up the maths support centre.  He later did a PhD (2012) in art history at Bangor in Wales, and is now an art-science research fellow at TCD.  He is working on the book Observations on Interlace in Art: its Structure and Varieties.

TCD / ResearchGate

24. Statistician Paddy Bourke was born in Kilkenny and was educated at UCC (BSc 1968?, MSc 1970?) and at Brown (PhD, 1974), his thesis on "The Design And Improvement Of Heuristics For An Insurance Management Game" being done under Ulf Grenander.  Following a stint at UCD (on the commerce faculty), he returned to UCC for the rest of his career.


25. Pat Muldowney was born was born near Thomastown, Kilkenny, and was educated at UCG (BSc 1967, MSc 1969) and Coleraine (PhD 1984). His thesis on "Application of Integration Theory to Statistics and Mechanics" was done under Ralph Henstock.  He then taught for 36 years at Magee, where he co-supervised 2 PhDs overseas and authored the books General Theory of Integration in Function Spaces (1987) and A Modern Theory of Random Variation: With Applications in Stochastic Calculus, Financial Mathematics, and Feynman Integration (2012). His brother Jim (above) is also a mathematician.


26. Electrical engineer Jonathan Fisher was born in Dublin and grew up in Kilkenny.  He was educated at TCD (BAI 1965?, PhD 1973), his thesis on "Studies of the Dielectric Properties of Some Alkali Halides" being done under Brendan Scaife.  His career was spent at Kevin Street (later DIT, 1972-2004), where he served as dept head.

Kevin St

27. Jim Grannell was born in or near Enniscorthy, Wexford, and grew up in Kilkenny. He was educated at first at UCC (BSc 1969, MA 1970), earning an NUI Travelling Studentship and then studying at Yale. His 1977 PhD on "The Edge-Function method for Thin Anisotropic Plates" was done back at UCC under Paddy Quinlan. After a stint at Georgia Tech (1977-1979) he spent the rest of his career at UCC, where he also served as head of maths physics. He also held an appointment at the US Naval Res Lab (1989-1992).



28. Kevin Kelly was born in Kilkenny and was educated at UCC (BA 1970, MA 1970).  His career was spent at Cork RTC (later CIT), where he also served as head of maths.  More recently, he obtained a law degree.


29. Gerry O'Hanlon was born in Kilkenny and was educated at UCC (BSc 1972) and TCD (MSc in strategic management).  His career was spent at the CSO, where he rose to become director general (2007-2012).

LinkedIn / SensibleCode

30. Paddy Dowling was born in Graignamanagh, Kilkenny and was educated at first at UCD (BSc 1979, MSc 1980), where he earned an NUI Travelling Studentship Prize.  His 1986 PhD from Kent State on "The Analytic Radon-Nikodym Property in Banach Spaces" was done under Joe Diestel.  His entire career has been at Miami State in Ohio, where he is currently dept chair.


31. Electrical engineer John Donovan was born in Mullinavat, Kilkenny, and was educated at NIHE Limerick (later UL, BE 1982).  After a decade in industry, he has lectured at IT Sligo since 1993.  He has a PhD (1998) in reliability engineering from UL.
32. Michael Brennan was born in Kilkenny city, and grew up in Coon West in the north of the county.  He was educated at first at Maynooth (BSc 1988, MSc 1989), earning an NUI Travelling Studentship Prize.  His PhD from Idaho (1995) on "A Study of the Existence of Solutions to Some Initial Value Problems for Impulsive Differential Equation" was done under Larry Bobisud.  His career has been at CIT.

33. Declan Walsh (1973?-2012) was born in Kilkenny city, and was educated at DCU (BSc physics 1994?) and Maynooth (MSc stats 1995?).  His short career was spent at IT Tallaght.


34. Emer O'Shea was born in Kilkenny and was educated at UCD (BSc 2001?, PhD 2004), her thesis on "Information Carrying Gravitational Waves in Cosmology" being done under Peter Hogan.  She did a postdoc in Dalhousie, Canada.


35. Tom Dowling was born in Kilkenny city and was educated at UL (BSc 2004, PhD 2009), his thesis on "RADAR Images Using Multiply Scattered Waves" being done under Cliff Nolan.  His career so far has been at SPSS (2009-2011),  Stryker (2011-2017), and Philips (2018- ).


36. Biostatistician Fiona Boland was born 5 February in Kilkenny city, and was educated at UCD (BSc 2004, MSc 2005, PhD 2009).  Her thesis on "Random Effects Models for the Relationship between Bovine TB and Milk Production in Dairy Cows in Ireland" was done under Gabrielle Kelly.  After a few more year at UCD she is now lecturing at RCSI.


37. Astrophysicist Eamon O'Gorman was born between Urlingford and Tullaroan, Kilkenny, and was educated at UCD (BSc 2007), the International Space Univ in Strasbourg (MSc 2009) and TCD (PhD 2013+).  His thesis on "Radio Interferometric Studies of Cool Evolved Stellar Winds" was done under Graham Harper.  After a year at Onsala Obs in Sweden, he has been at DIAS.


38. Statistician and data scientist Áine Dooley was born in Cuffesgrange, Kilkenny, and was educated at UCD (BSc 2008) and Maynooth (PhD 2015).  Her thesis on "Modelling Techniques for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Multifunctionality – Theoretical Development and Application" being done under Caroline Brophy.  After a year at UL, she worked for the Central Bank (2016-2020), she now works for Hannover Re.


39. Páraic Treacy was born in Ballymack, Cuffesgrange, Kilkenny, and was educated at UL (BA 2009, PhD 2012+).  His thesis on "An Investigation into the Integration of Mathematics and Science at Junior Cycle in Irish Post Primary Schools" was done under John O'Donoghue & John McClelland.  Following stints at UL (2013-2015), Derby (2015-2016), Brighton (2016-2019), and the Emirates College for Advanced Education (2019-2021), he is now at Mary Immaculate College in Thurles.


40. Statistician and data scientist Aidan Boland was born in Kilkenny and was educated at UCD (BSc 2010, MSc 2011, PhD 2015+), his thesis on "Exploring Model Uncertainty in Doubly Intractable Distributions" being done under Nial Friel.  His career so far has been in industry.  He occasionally lectures at UCD.