The Atlas of Irish Mathematics 30: Fermanagh (Apr 2022)

Our 30th bi-monthly regional Irish focused blog highlights mathematical people associated with Fermanagh, 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, Kilkenny, Belfast again, and Kildare.  Four counties have not been treated yet, and most of the ones including university cities will need additional installments to catch up to the present day.

Given the modest numbers of people included below from recent decades, it's clear that must be dozens of maths (or maths ed or stats or actuarial or theoretical physics) people missing from this blog.  We may know about some of them without knowing that they are associated with Fermanagh.  Please help us fill in these gaps.

All those known to have taught maths at Portora school in Enniskillen are included.  Other mathsy men not from the county, who merely attended the school as pupils, include Robert Hutton (1842-1890), John G. Smith (1881-1968),  and Thomas Hill (1885?-?).

We exclude mathsy graduates whose only Fermanagh connection was time spent there in parish work, such as John Stack (1760-1813) from Cork, and Charles Robinson (1860?-1938--?) from Tyrone

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

Thanks to Olivia Bree (SPD), Robert Northridge (Portora) and David Malone (Maynooth) for valuable input. Last updated 21 April 2022.


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01. William Magee (1766–1831) was born 18 March in Enniskillen, Fermanagh.  He was educated at TCD (Scholar 1884, BA 1786, MA 1789, BD 1797, DD 1801).  He was the 5th Erasmus Smith's Professor of Maths (1800–1812), and also taught divinity and Greek.  From 1812 onwards he was a clergyman, eventually serving as bishop of Raphoe (Donegal). and finally as Archbishop of Dublin.

Wikipedia / Snipview / Grave

02.  Astronomer Andrew Graham (1815-1908) was born 8 Aprril in Irvingstown, Fermanagh.  Details of his education are unknown.  He worked at Makree Observatory (1842-1864) before spending the rest of his career at Cambridge Observatory.

Wikipedia / Geni


03. John Fowler (1826-1898 ) was born in Cara House, Fermanagh, and was educated at TCD (1847+).  His career was spent in law.

Peerage / Grave?

04. John Weir (1826?-1889) was born in Fermanagh, and was educated at TCD (BA 1848+, LLD 1878).  He taught at the Royal School in Raphoe (1857-1889).  

Raphoe / Pension 


04A. Edward McGuire/Maguire (1825?-1907) was described as a native of Cavan in an obituary. Other sources associate his early days with Fermanagh and Monaghan.  He was one of the first two maths graduates of Queen's, Galway (BA 1854, MA 1882?), having earlier attended a seminary for a while.  He then pursued medicine (Edinburgh 1859) and spent his career as a doctor in Mayo.  His angle trisection attempt from 1851 survives.

Angle trisection / Obit / 1901 Census

05. William Jeffares (1833?-1898) was born in Rathespeck, Wexford, and was educated at TCD (BA 1856?).  His career was spent teaching, first at Portora in Enniskillen (1857-1869), then at Dundalk Grammar School (1869-1871), where he also served as headmaster.  His last 2 decades were at St Peter's (1878-1898) in Wexford.

Edu Times / Obit / Grave


06. Richard Biggs (1847-1904) was born 10 March in Devizes, Wiltshire, England and was educated at TCD (1868, MA 1871, LLB & LLD 1874).  His career was spent teaching in Ireland, first at the Chesterfield School in Birr, Offaly, then for over a decade as headmaster of the Grammar School in Galway, and from 1894 on as the headmaster at Portora, in Enniskillen, Fermanagh.  He died in a canoeing accident on Lough Erne.   He contributed to the Educational Timese.

1901 Census / Edu Times / Prize 

07. Sophie Willock (later Bryant, 1850-1922) was born 15 February in Dublin, and grew up there, in Ballymoney, Cork, in Cleenish, Fermanagh, and in London. She attended Bedford College for a while, around 1866, then married William Bryant in late 1869, but was widowed in 1870.  After teaching in Highgate for a while, in 1875 she commenced her lifelong career at the North London Collegiate School.  A few years later she also starting attending classes at the University of London.  She was awarded BSc (1881) in mental & moral science and maths, and DSc (1884).  Her thesis was in mental and moral science ("psychology and ethics" is a rough modern translation).  In 1885, she also became the first woman to publish a paper, on "The ideal geometrical form of natural cell structure," in the Proceedings of the London Mathematical Society.  She published on correlation in 1893. She continued teaching at NLCS until 1918, having become headmistress in 1895, and co-edited three volumes of Euclid's Elements of Geometry (in 1897, 1899 and 1901).  She also published extensively about education, was a suffragette, and authored numerous other books in diverse areas. Throughout the decades, she visited Dublin frequently, and played a role in laying the groundwork for TCD's eventual admission of women.  In 1904, they awarded her an honorary LittD.

Wikipedia / MacTutor / NLCS / Bio / IT / Correlation / Grave


08. William Tetley (1861-1927) was born in Sheffield, Yorkshire, and was educated at Cambridge (St Catharine's, 31st wrangler 1883, BA 1884). He taught maths at Portora in Enniskillen 1891-1925.



09. James Burkitt (1870–1959) was born 20 August in Killybegs, Donegal, and was educated at Queen's Galway (BSc 1891, BE 1892) where he had a senior scholarship in maths.  His  career was spent as a civil engineer, first based in Galway, then in Mayo, Clare, Belfast, and finally in Fermanagh. He was also a notable ornithologist

Wikipedia / Birds / 1901 Census / 1911 Census

10. Mathematician and economist John G. Smith (1881-1968) was born 13 Oct in Dunmanway, Cork.  As a pupil at Portora, in Fermanagh, he contributed to the Educational Times. He was educated at TCD (Scholar 1903, BA 1904, MA 1907) and at Birmingham (MComm).  In 1905 he was appointed lecturer in maths at Cardiff. He then briefly taught econ at QUB, before joining the commerce staff at Birmingham in 1919. Having authored the book Organised Produce Markets (Longmans, 1922),  in 1923 he was appointed Mitsui Prof of Finance there.  In time, he served as vice principal, and in 1956 was awarded an honorary LLD.  In the 1960s, a new building was named after him, which over the years has housed various departments within the faculty of commerce, including the econ dept for a while.

1901 Census / 1911 Census / Edu Times / 1923 / 1956 / Death

11. Henry Biggs (1882-1934) was born 16 September in Galway and later attended Portora in Enniskillen, where his father Richard (above) was headmaster.  He was educated at first at TCD (BA 1905), then worked at the Cavendish Lab (1906-1907).  After a period at Manchester (MSc 1916), he ended up at Oxford.  He authored 2 books.

1901 Census / Army / Relativity / Nature


12. Doctor Norman Graham (1884-1986) was born 11 September in Tattygar, Enniskillen, Fermanagh, and grew up there and in Comber, Down.  He was educated at QUB (BSc 1906, MD 1913??). His career was spent as a doctor.

1901 Census / 1911 Census

13. William Davis (1889-1965) was born 18 April in Enniskillen and was educated at Blackrock College (NUI BSc 1910).  He taught for one year in Newry and then worked as a tax surveyor, in both Athlone and Dublin.

1911 Census

14. G. Ross Gilmore (1890-1982) was born 11 March in Coleraine, Londonderry, and was educated at TCD (BAI 1912?, MA19xx).  He served in the army (1915-1920) and then taught in Tonbridge (Kent), Jamaica College (Kingston).  In 1931 he was appointed to Dungannon Royal School, and finally to Portora (1943-1955) in Enniskillen.

1901 Census / 1911 Census / 1931 / Obit

15. Herbert Tate (1894-1983) was born in Cork, and educated at TCD (scholar 1915, BA 1917, MA 1921), having started his studies at UCC.  He taught at Portora (1917-1921) in Enniskillen, then moved to McGill University (1921-1964).  He authored several books on financial mathematics.

1901 Census / 1911 Census / Interview

16. Alfie Barnes (1901?-1996) was born in Wirksworth, Derby, Eng;and, and was educated at Oxford (BA 1920, MA 192x).  He taught at Bromsgrove School (Worcestershire) before settling at Portora, Enniskillen (1932-1966).



17. Horace Grant (1905-1933) was born in Thornbury, Gloucestershire, England (baptised 6 September), and was educated at Bristol (BSc 1927).  He taught at Portora (1928-1933), in Enniskillen, prior to his untimely death.   .


18. Dick Timoney (1909-1985) was born 17 May in Belleek, Fermanagh, and was educated at first at UCD (BSc 1930, MSc 1931), where he earned an NUI Travelling Studentship Prize.  After a year at Edinburgh, studying with E. T. Whittaker, he returned to UCD, where he served on the staff for 47 years.

1911 Census / IMS / UCD

19. Charlie Johnson (1909-1970) was born 15 October in Kilmagig, near Avoca, Wicklow, and was educated at TCD (BA 1932, HDip 1934, MA 193x).  He taught at Newry Grammar School, Portora (1932-1933), and the High School (Dublin, 1933-1960).

1911 Census / Obit & Grave

20. Rene Hobson (later Benson, 1915-2010) was born 7 May, in Parsonstown, King's County, and grew up there and in Cork. She was educated at TCD (BA 1937), and spent her career teaching, first at Alexandra College and then at Portora (1957-1978).


21. Economist Terence Gorman (1923-2003) was born 17 June in Kesh, Fermanagh, and grew up in Rhodesia.  He was educated at TCD (BA 1949, PhD in econ).  His career was spent at Birmingham (1949-1962), Oxford (1962-1967), LSE (1967-1979) and Oxford again (1979-1990),  NUI awarded him an honorary DEcon in 1986. He authored several books, and supervised 5 doctoral students.

Wikipedia / Prize / Obit / Guardian / Prabook / Survey

22. Michael Gilligan (??-1984) was born in Garrison, Fermanagh, and was educated at UCD (BSc 1949).  He worked for the Irish Met Service (?-1962-1983), and was part of the first RTE TV Weather team.

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23. Theoretical physicist Dick Carson (1930-2019) was born 7 October on Inishmore Island, Upper Lough Erne, Fermanagh.  He was educated at QUB (BSc 1952, PhD 1955).  His thesis on "A Quantal Study Relating to Some of the Simpler Molecule" was done under David Bates.  His career was at Glasgow (1955-1956), AWRE Aldermaston (1956-1960), and St Andrews (1960-1996). He supervised 10 PhD students in astronomy and astrophysics.

IAU / OUP / Praboook


24. Peter Ritchie was born in England and was educated at QUB (BSc 1955).  He taught at Portora (1961-1968) in Enniskillen.

25. Kieran A. Murphy was born 9 August in Newtownbutler, Fermanagh, and was educated at Maynooth (BSc 1963, MSc 1964), following which he was awarded an NUI Travelling Studentship.  He studied at Berkeley, then worked for the city and state of San Francisco, as well as in real estate.

26. Robert Northridge was born in Derry, and mostly grew up in Convoy, near 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, in Enniskillen. He taught maths there 1973-2010, and is now the school archivist.  His books include The Flora of County Fermanagh (2012).

Fermanagh / Flora

27. Ian Young was born in Enniskillen, and was educated at QUB (BSc 1988, PhD 1992).  His thesis on "Solution of Relativistic Asymptotic Equations in Electron-Ion Scattering" was done under Patrick Norrington.  His career has been spent teaching in schools in Britain and Egypt.


28. David Marshall was born on the Down side of Belfast and grew up in Enniskillen, Fermanagh.  He was educated at QUB (BSc 1990, PhD 1994).  His thesis on "The Role of Correlation in Inelastic Ion-Atom Collisions" was done under Derrick Crothers.  After a 2 yeara at CAPTEC, his career has been spent at the Northern Ireland Statistical Research Association, where he is now the Director of Census and Population Statistics.


29. Colin Turner ( Carroll) was born 20 January in Enniskillen, Fermanagh, and grew up mostly in Bangor, Down.  He was educated at QUB (BSc 1993, PhD 1997), his thesis on "Total Negation of Topological Properties in Constrained Environments" being done with Brian McMaster.  His career so far has been spent in engineering at Ulster University in Jordanstown.


30. Statistician Adele Marshall was born in Fermanagh and was educated at UU Jordanstown (BSc 1997?, MSc 1998?, PhD 2001).  Her thesis on "Bayesian Belief Networks Using Conditional Phase-Type Distibutions" was done under Sally McClean.  Her career has been spent at QUB, where she supervised numerous PhDs.


31. Engineer Marion McAfee was born in Belfast, Antrim, and grew up in Belcoo, Fermanagh.  She was educated at QUB (MEng 2002, PhD 2005).  Her thesis on "A Soft Sensor for Viscosity Control of Polymer Extrusion" was done with Steve Thompson.  She lectured at QUB (2006-2009), and then moved to IT Sligo.  Her interests are in sensing, modelling and control of system dynamics.

IT Sligo / ResearchGate / GoogleScholar

32. Geneticist Padhraig Gormley was born in Enniskillen, Fermanagh, and was educated at first at QUB (BSc CS & physics, 2004) and UU (MSc AI 2005).  He returned to QUB (PhD 2010) for a thesis on "An Investigation of Advanced Data-Driven Identification Methods for Systems Biology" done under Kang Li & George Irwan.  He has worked in genomics research at Harvard (2014-2018) and Merck (2018-2020), and is now at GSK.


33. Janet Goodall was born in Dublin and was educated at TCD (BAI 2008?). She taught at Portora (2010-2016) in Ennliskillen, before returning to Dublin to teach at Santa Sabina Dominican College in Sutton.

34. John T. Sheridan was born in Florencecourt, south of Enniskillen, Fermanagh,and was educated at Harvard (BA 2013) and Stony Brook (PhD 2020).  His thesis on "Divisor Varieties and Syzygies of Symmetric Products of Curves" was done under Robert Lazarsfield.  He is now at Princeton.


35. Sandra McCordick was educated at TCD (BAI 2014?) and now teaches maths at Portora in Enniskillen.