History of Groups in Galway

by Colin M Campbell

Professor Martin Newell writes;
At the inaugural meeting of the Irish Mathematical Society in Dublin in December 1977, I proposed that a series of instructional conferences be organised in various topics in Mathematics. The Departments in Cork and Galway undertook to arrange conferences in History of Mathematics and Group Theory, respectively, in 1978. Only the one in Galway has been held on an annual basis ever since.
In the inaugural Newsletter of the Irish Mathematical Society in 1978 we have the following words.
The Irish Mathematical Society intends to hold a series of short instructional conferences. It is intended to choose a particular theme for each conference and to have a number of survey-type lectures on this theme. The aim is to survey a particular area for the benefit of non-specialists. A small number of short more specialized contributions may also be given for the benefit of experts in the area.

The first of these conferences was held at U.C.G. May 12-13. The organiser was Martin L Newell and the topic was Group Theory. The following lectures were given:

Some aspects of permutation groups.J P McDermott (U.C.G.)
Finite simple groups. T J Laffey (U.C.D.)
The representations of GL(n, q). G Thomas (U.C.C.)
Augmentation quotients of some finite nonabelian groups   N Losey (Manitoba & Warwick)

The next mini-conference will be held at U.C.C. in late September. The topic will be in the area of the history of Mathematics. Details about this conference will be issued at later.
In issue 2 of the Newsletter of the Irish Mathematical Society in 1979 there is the following paragraph.
The Group Theory Conference in Galway was a tremendous success with over 25 participants, including a small number from abroad. Great credit is due to the main speakers for their very informative presentation, tending to review some of the main areas of the theory and not getting bogged down in technical detail. Martin Newell, the organiser, has plans well in hand for another conference in May this year and informs us that he hopes to make it an annual event. Group Theory is alive, well and flourishing in Ireland.
In the same issue of the Newsletter there is the announcement of a Short Conference. It states:
One of the main activities of the Society has been its organisation of short, mainly instructional, conferences. The next conference of this type will be held in University College, Galway, on May 11-12, and will be on Group Theory. The organiser is Professor M L Newell. A similar conference on Function Theory will be held in University College, Cork, in the Autumn.
The conference is often referred to as 'GiG'. This phrase GiG, Groups in Galway, was penned in an announcement of the Newsletter of the LMS (London Mathematical Society) in 1982 and that title has stuck with the conference ever since.

Thus the series of Groups in Galway was well launched. I (Colin M Campbell -- University of St Andrews) have been a participant at many of the conferences over the years and always look forward to my 'spring treat'. It is a pleasure to note that the conference remains a great success. Perhaps this is due to the fact that the talks are taken seriously but the atmosphere within the conference is always friendly. Many of my colleagues from St Andrews have been at the meetings which always attract a good number of international participants. Long may the conferences continue.

We give the dates, main speakers and titles of the talks for the conferences at THIS LINK.

A further paper by C M Campbell about the Groups St Andrews Conferences and the Galway Group meetings is at THIS LINK.

JOC/EFR October 2015