The Irish Mathematical Society

Founded in 1976

The Irish Mathematical Society (Cumann Matamaitice na héireann) came into being on 14 April 1976 when a constitution, based on that of the Edinburgh Mathematical Society, was accepted by a meeting held in Trinity College Dublin following a symposium organised by the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies. The background to this is given by T T West in [7] which we now quote:-
In the 1960's practically the only collective activities of the Irish mathematical community were the Christmas and Easter symposia organised by the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies which, happily, still continue. A group of younger mathematicians, most of whose doctoral studies had taken place abroad, had returned to Ireland and were determined to change this situation. This informal group, which met in the late 1960's and consisted of J Kennedy (University College Dublin), F Holland (University College Cork), D McAlister (Queens University Belfast), and T West (Trinity College Dublin), decided in 1967 to circulate the Irish mathematical community, north and south, to determine the possibility of organised research symposia or summer schools on selected topics. The response was very clear, meetings of this nature, provided they dovetailed with the interests of the mathematical community, would achieve widespread support and two topics (Group Representation and Quantum Mechanics) topped the list as far as overall interest was concerned. The Secretary of the Royal Irish Academy, Father J R McConnell, then took up the case put forward by the informal group and suggested that if the meetings were to be organised under the auspices of the Academy it would be easier to obtain the support of all Irish Universities. Father McConnell went further and suggested that the informal group would be constituted an Academy Sub-Committee of the Irish National Committee for Mathematics and the fact that the Royal Irish Academy's role was recognised all over Ireland made this proposition attractive. This was immediately agreed to and the Summer School Sub-Committee of the Academy's National Committee for Mathematics came into existence. Thus the first meeting, a Summer School on Group Representations and Quantum Mechanics was organised in Trinity College Dublin by T T West from 7-18 July, 1969.
The success of this Summer School led to further Summer Schools each year from 1971. These were 'Complex Function Theory' (1971), 'Numerical Analysis' (1972), 'Group Theory and Computation' (1973), 'Spectral Theory' (1974) and a symposium on 'Harmonic Analysis and Topological Algebra' in December 1975 at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies. At this symposium a meeting was held which agreed to the setting up of an Irish Mathematical Society and three mathematicians, D McQuillan, J T Lewis and T West, had been appointed to draw up the draft constitution which was approved in the following April. The Society was set up with the aim of furthering mathematics and its applications, and mathematical research in Ireland.

In [3] the events of the first year of the Society are recorded:-
Our main speakers for the year have been Professor Jean A Dieudonné, Professor Michael F Atiyah and Dr J D Murray. Professor Dieudonné's 9-day visit to Ireland was a tremendous success and all of us were very impressed by the great man's still youthful enthusiasm for the subject. His visit was arranged by the Society but most of the financing was obtained through the National Science Council - CNRS (Paris) agreement. Professor Atiyah was invited to Ireland by the D.I.A.S. and very kindly agreed to talk to the Society. Part of his message is that quite a number of branches of mathematics seem, at last, to be converging - I would like to see more evidence! Dr Murray spoke in Galway on Mathematical Biology. This appears to be an area that deserves more attention from Mathematicians ...
The Society planned a series of short instructional conferences. The first was a 'Group Theory' conference held at University College Galway 12-13 May 1978. This conference, known as 'Groups in Galway', has been held every year since: see THIS LINK.

The second short instructional conference organised by the Society was 'History of Mathematics' held in University College Cork in September 1978.

In the Newsletter of 1979 T C Hurley writes [4]:-
Since our last Newsletter the Society put most of its efforts into two main areas, viz. conferences and the Mathematical Olympiad in schools.
The first National Mathematics Contest was held on 6 March 1979. A total of 957 students registered for the Contest and the examination results from 674 students was received. It was won by Jonathan Griffin, who also won the 1980 Contest which had almost 1000 participants. The Fergus Gaines cup is awarded annually to the best performing student in the selection test for the Irish Team for the International Mathematical Olympiad.

The Society published 15 issues of the Newsletter between 1978 and 1985. In 1986 it was given the new title of the Bulletin of the Irish Mathematical Society which continues to appear twice a year. The first issue of the Bulletin in March 1986 was numbered 16 to continue the numbering from the Newsletter. The Editorial in the issue states the following [2]:-
At the ordinary meeting of 20 December 1985 the Society decided to change the name of the 'Newsletter' to the 'Irish Mathematical Society Bulletin'. This move reflect a widespread perception that the former title did not do justice to the substance of the publication which has been developed over the past few years. It was also decided to continue the present numbering so that this issue maintains the sequence as number 16.
The Bulletin is intended to inform members about the activities of the Society and to present items of general mathematical interest.

An annual conference is organised by the Society which covers current research across the whole of mathematics as well as topics relating to mathematical educational. The conference is held in September, the first being held in 1988 at Trinity College Dublin. There have been a few deviations from the standard pattern with the 2004 conference being held jointly with the British Mathematical Colloquium in Belfast in April. In 2009 another joint meeting with the British Mathematical Colloquium was held, this time in Galway in April. In 2016 the annual conference was held in Trinity College Dublin on 15-16 April to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Irish Mathematical Society.

We list below the Presidents of the Irish Mathematical Society:
1976 F Holland
1977 F Holland
1978 F Holland
1979 T J Laffey
1980 T J Laffey
1981 J J H Miller
1982 J J H Miller
1983 A G O'Farrell
1984 A G O'Farrell
1985 M Newell
1986 M Newell
1987 S Dineen
1988 S Dineen
1989 F Gaines
1990 F Gaines
1991 R Timoney
1992 R Timoney
1993 B Goldsmith
1994 B Goldsmith
1995 D Hurley
1996 D Hurley
1997 C Nash
1998 C Nash
1999 D Armitage
2000 D Armitage
2001 E Gath
2002 E Gath
2003 G Lessells
2004 G Lessells
2005 M O Reilly
2006 M O Reilly
2007 R Higgs
2008 R Higgs
2009 J Cruickshank
2010 J Cruickshank
2011 S Wills
2012 S Wills
2013 M Mathieu
2014 M Mathieu
2015 M Mackey
2016 M Mackey
2017 S Buckley

Visit the society website.

References (show)

  1. P J Boland, Report on the Activities of the Irish Mathematical Society, Newsletter of the Irish Mathematical Society 3 (1980), 3-5.
  2. P Fitzpatrick, Editorial, Bulletin of the Irish Mathematical Society 16 (March 1986), 3.
  3. T C Hurley, Report of the First Year's Activities, Newsletter of the Irish Mathematical Society 1 (1978), 6-7.
  4. T C Hurley, Report on the Activities of the Society, Newsletter of the Irish Mathematical Society 2 (1979), 3-5.
  5. News Section, Newsletter of the Irish Mathematical Society 1 (1978), 8-10.
  6. News Section, Newsletter of the Irish Mathematical Society 2 (1979), 6-7.
  7. T T West, The origins of the Irish Mathematical Society, Irish Math. Soc. Bulletin 51 (2003), 73-75.

Last Updated February 2018