Irish History: Volume XVII
Irish Inventions, Part 2
Catch up on part 1 here!
1. While Robert Fulton was technically born in Pennsylvania, it was in 1765, (before it was America,) so we’re counting this son of Kilkenny immigrants as Irish. He’s not only credited with perfecting the steamboat, but is the inventor of the submarine (in 1800, no less!)
2. Dr. William Brooke O'Shaughnessy was born in Limerick in 1809 and would go on become a visionary in both the worlds of telegraphy and medical science. Not only did he bring the use of the telegraph to India in the 1840s and vastly improved upon the system there, but years before that innovation, he also managed to establish a cure for cholera—the first use of intravenous (IV) therapy.
3. Born in Dungarvan in 1903 as the son of a Methodist Minister, Ernest Walton went on to become a Nobel Prize winning Physicist for his work with his English colleague, John Cockcroft--the two men were the first to artificially split an atom. The device that achieved this, the Cockcroft-Walton Accelerator, was the precursor to projects like the Large Hadron Collider.
4. Ironically, a man by the name of Aeneas Coffey was responsible for a revolutionary invention in service of another beverage—whiskey. Born in Dublin in 1780, Coffey is the inventor of the patent still, a closed-system whiskey still that helped standardize the distilling process and create a smoother beverage with a higher ABV.
5. John Tyndall, a Leighlinbridge-born scientist working in the mid-1800s, discovered in 1859 that that gases (like carbon dioxide and water vapor) can absorb heat, i.e. infrared radiation (i.e. he helped invent the science of climate change!) While he can’t fully claim the discovery of the greenhouse effect (an amateur, American scientist named Eunice Foote made the connection in 1856)—he did make his discovery simultaneously with no knowledge of Foote’s work and is credited with applying that knowledge to explaining why the sky is blue.
6. If you’ve ever taken a chemistry class, Lismore-born 17th-century scientist Robert Boyle will sound familiar. Considered the father of the modern chemistry, he’s best remembered these days for Boyle’s Law: the discover that the volume of a gas decreases with increasing pressure (and vice versa.) He also invented the first vacuum pump—a way to create a small-space vacuum chamber for scientific experimentation.
8. Born in Dublin in 1810, Robert Mallet essentially invented the science of earthquakes and is thus called “the father of the seismology” (he even coined the word—and the word “epicenter.”) His work (with his son as his partner) includes the first known photographs of earthquake devastation and the creation of isoseismal maps.
9. Ireland has been through it when it comes to political oppression, so it’s no surprise that the Irish are the inventor of the word and concept of “boycott.” When Charles Cunningham Boycott, an English agent in County Mayo, evicted 11 tenants in 1880, the locals set about on a campaign of isolation—shops in the area refused to serve him, and he became unable to leave his house due to the mob outside.
10. Dublin-born Lucien Bull was a pioneer of “chronophotography,” defined as high speed photograph that created “a set of photographs of a moving object, taken for the purpose of recording and exhibiting successive phases of motion.” Essentially, the precursor to modern cinematography and animation. He also, in a completely different field, invented an improved version of an electrocardiogram (EEG,) similar to what we still use today!
But we're not done yet...there's a part 3 coming!
This post is part of a series. Read our last Irish History post, all about Irish Nobel Laureates, here. Check out the blog every Monday and Thursday for more posts about Irish history, dance culture, community news, and spotlights on our dancers, staff, and families—among other fun projects! And don’t forget to dance along with us on both Facebook and Instagram.
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