Dr. Joe Lennon R.I.P

10 Jan 2023

The following is an appreciation post for Dr. Lennon from retired friends and colleagues (Physics Department, UCC).

James Joseph (Joe) Lennon 1930 - 2022 

Joe Lennon was born in Kiltyclogher, Co. Leitrim, near the Fermanagh border, into one of the best known traditional music families in Ireland. His parents, uncle and granduncle and particularly his brothers, Ben and Charlie, were all widely known and respected musicians.

On leaving school, Joe joined the Met Office, stationed at the Valentia Observatory near Cahirciveen, and proceeded to study for a BSc degree in UCC, majoring in physics. He subsequently obtained an MSc under the then Professor of Experimental Physics, J.J. McHenry. 

Joe then headed to the University of Liverpool from which he obtained a PhD under the direction of Professor J.D. Craggs who held the Robert Rankin Chair of Electronic Engineering there. Two of his contemporaries in Liverpool, Tomás Ó Canainn and Michael Sexton, later became members of the teaching staff in the Electrical Engineering Department in UCC.   

Joe joined the UCC Physics Department as Lecturer in 1963. Joe was a key figure in enabling the department to maintain a full set of undergraduate courses at a time when staff resources were particularly stretched (comprising just one Professor, one Lecturer and one Assistant). The material covered in these courses was remarkably comprehensive and broad; the achievements of the graduates speak for themselves.  

The heavy teaching load involved in those years made research activity extremely difficult but, with the building of the New Science building (now called the Kane Building) in the 1970s and the gradual addition of further academic staff, Joe was able to develop a research programme based on the use of microwave cavities to measure electron densities in electrical plasmas. His first research student, Declan Murphy, subsequently became director of the Met Office. 

Joe was always available to give both colleagues and students wise and well-informed advice on any aspect of physics. His ability to use the English language to best effect was remarkable; there was no-one better able to proof read, always able to improve both the physics and the language. 

May he rest in peace.  

School of Physics

Scoil na Fisice

Room 213 (Physics Office), 2nd floor, Kane Science Building, University College Cork, Ireland.,