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About The School

About The School

History of the School

The National University of Ireland, Cork, which was established under the Universities Act, 1997, evolved from the original Queen's College, Cork, which received its first cohort of students on October 30 1849. Mathematics was taught in the College from the beginning. George Boole, was the College's first Professor of Mathematics, and occupied the position from 1849 until 1864, when he died, aged 49. During his time in Cork, he wrote The Laws of Thought, an expansion of his earlier seminal work Mathematical Analysis of Logic, and books on differential equations and finite differences. The results of his original ideas underpin several programmes offered to students of the College.

Boole's place in mathematics is known worldwide, and his rich mathematical legacy has been acknowledged by the College in many ways. A special commemorative window has been installed in the Aula Maxima to his memory; on May 25, 1964, members of the Royal Irish Academy gathered in Cork to pay tribute to his achievements, and the booklet George Boole---A Miscellany, edited by Patrick D. Barry, was published to mark the occasion. In more recent times, a new library was named after him and the Boole Post-doctoral Fellowships were established. Quite recently, the Boole Centre for Research in Informatics (BCRI) was established under the auspices of The School and the Department of Computer Science. An account of Boole's life and mathematical contributions can be found in George Boole: his life and work by Desmond MacHale, a former Associate Professor in the School.

UCC Library holds original George Boole material – 1st editions of many of his publications, as well as Boole's own copy of The Laws of Thought. The Library also preserves a collection of personal letters to and from Boole to his family and friends, collected by his sister Maryann after his death to provide the source work for a proposed biography by her. Very few of Boole's academic works are preserved, however drafts of unpublished lectures dealing with astronomy, ancient mythology, and education are extant. Further information on the collection The collection is fully listed and open to the public: the descriptive list. Accessing the collection, opening times and contacting the Archives Service

Between 1864 and 1964, there were seven Professors of Mathematics, viz., Robert Romer, BA (1865-1867); Charles Niven, MA (1867-1880); John C. Malet, MA, FRS. (1880-1887); Arthur H. Anglin, MA, LLB., FRSE. (1887--1913); Matthew J. Conran, MA, DSc, MRIA. (1913-1935); Henry St. John Atkins, MSc, (1936--1954); Patrick Brendan Kennedy, PhD, DSc, MRIA. (1956-1963). The latter resigned in 1963 to become the first Professor of Mathematics at the newly-founded University of York, and in October, 1964, Patrick D. Barry, MSc, PhD, DIC, succeeded him in the Chair at Cork, and served for 35 years before retiring in 1999. Under his stewardship, the Department gradually expanded its staff numbers and range of courses to satisfy the needs of an increasing student population. Jürgen Berndt, was appointed Professor in 2004, and left to become the Professor of Mathematics at King's College London in 2009. Bernard Hanzon became professor in 2011.

The Department of Applied Mathematics previously went under the name of the Department of Mathematical Physics, which was set up in 1910 following the formation of the National University of Ireland in 1908. Matthew J. Conran, MA, DSc, MRIA, was the first to hold the chair, which he held for three years, before becoming the Professor of Mathematics. The next occupant was Edward Henry Harper, author of Aerial Locomotion, who was killed during the First World War in 1916. Alfred O’Rahilly was the next incumbent; he occupied the chair during the period 1917-1943, at the end of which time he became President of the College. He authored a polemical treatise entitled Electromagnetic Theory, which was highly influential in its day. He was succeeded by Michael D. (Donal) McCarthy, who held the position from 1944 until 1949, when he became Director of the Central Statistics Office, before returning as President of the College in 1967. Patrick M. Quinlan was appointed to the chair in 1951, and held it until his retirement in 1987. Thus, PMQ, as he was affectionately known, occupied the Chair of Mathematical Physics for 36 years, and was the last to hold it. Following its creation in 1996, the Chair of Applied Mathematics was first held for a one-year period by Joseph McKenna, who resigned in 2000. Professor Alexei Pokrovskii was appointed to this Chair in 2001. He died in 2010. In 2014, Professor Sebastian Wieczorek was appointed Chair of Applied Mathematics.


The Department of Statistics was established in the early 1950s. Tadhg O Ciardha was appointed as the first Professor of Statistics in 1952, a full-time post, while simultaneously holding the part-time post of Registrar. This situation was reversed in 1976, when he vacated the chair to become Professor of Mathematical Statistics, a part-time post, and became the full-time Registrar. He subsequently became President in 1978. In 1975, Michael A. (Aidan) Moran was appointed to the Chair of Statistics, a position he held until 1989, when he became Registrar. The resulting vacancy remained unfilled for a long period. The Chair is now held by Professor Finbarr O'Sullivan who was appointed in 1996.

School of Mathematical Sciences

Eolaíochtaí Matamaiticiúla

Room 1-57, First Floor floor, T12 XF62