I dedicate this page to our grandsons Feidhlim and Caolan Lennon
One day I hope this page answers some of the questions they may ask...
The following photographs are mainly of family and friends. Where possible I have tried to place them in time and location; if in doubt I say so.
Initially - re family - I was concerned only with my family (Cosgraves and Flanagans on my father's side, and Sands(es) and Owens(es) on
my mother's side), but now I have begun to add something of my wife's family too (this could, of course, go on forever... ).
Note of 5th April 2023. When I first began a website - way back in 1999 - I never intended having a photos corner; rather I just
intended inserting the occasional photograph. Of course, for mathematicians, I created my
Oxford 1969 page, a page, incidentally, that garnered over one thousand views within
It was only with the passage of time that I created this photos corner as a subsection of my
autobiography page. Thanks to the remarkable
Internet Archive site I have been able to determine that the first appearance of this page looked like
this in December 2015.
Then, early in 2016, preparing for a visit to my sister Marie in San Francisco, I started for the first time to investigate my family background.
This was difficult to do, since my mother had died in 1967, my father in 1995, my brother Tony in 2009, and my brother Aidan in 2015, and I only had
two older sisters still living. But, bit by bit, I started to accumulate scant information (greatly aided by the wonderful Sr. Mary de Lourdes
Fahy, of whom more below), and my discoveries began to be a feature of this page.
(1805/1806 - 9th August 1883), a great-great-grandmother. So, Caolan and Feidhlim, one day you will know this Mary to be a
great-great-great-great-grandmother of yours.
Mary's husband - whose name I do not (yet) know - died before her; Mary's death - as you may read - was reported by a son of hers, 'Patt',
Without this Mary - and all the others - neither you (Feidhlim&Caolan) nor I would exist.
I have given an uncertain year for Mary's year of birth because if, for example, Mary was born in (say) December 1805, then she would
still have been 77 in August 1883. If I ever determine Mary's exact date of birth then I will alter the above.
Mary's son Patrick, and his wife Maria (née Howard), were the parents of my grandmother Catherine (Monday 24th September 1860 -
Tuesday 17th August 1915), my father's mother. I have written a great deal more about Catherine further down this page.
My father's family
1911? (See photo #4 for Cosgrave/Cosgrove.) Dad's mother was Catherine Flanagan, from Laughil, about 5 miles south of Gort.
Dad used to tell that she was taught at school by
and that she had once caused a stir at her school by refusing to accept a school prize from
because he had evicted her parents from their home on his land (I have to check this out sometime, for it could well have been her grandparents'
home, rather than her parents'). On the left is my father's older brother Anthony, and anyone who knows my nephew - Danny McDonald - could not
but be struck by the incredible likeness.
I only discovered recently that my grandmother lost an unnamed baby girl on Wednesday 15th February 1905; her death certificate gives her "Age last
Birthday" as being "1 hour". The girl's "Certified Cause of Death and Duration of Illness" is given as being "Premature Birth No med attend".
Left to right: Anthony (b. 7 July 1902), Catherine (b. 24 Sept 1860), Margaret (b. 15 June 1899), Michael
(b. 6 Sept. 1863), John (b. 24 July 1906), Bridget (b. 31 Jan 1904).
After my father died - on 17th March 1995 - my eldest sister Marie (then, and still, living in/near San Francisco) sent me the original of this scanned
photograph. Until then I had neven seen any photograph of the boy who was to become my father, nor any of his parents...
Patrick Sands (1869-1913),
my mother's father. This is a copy of the original, given to me by my cousin Donal Sands (our grandfathers were brothers) when he visited myself
and Mary in June 2016. Until then I had never seen a photograph of my grandfather. This was a very happy discovery for me. (Patrick was a very handsome man indeed; his photo is in front of me, on the bookshelves above my computer, as I do this work. I would so love to have a photograph of Annie, my mother's mother, but sadly I have to accept that I will probably never see one.)
Patrick's birth (1869) registration, and
his death (1913) registration.
I see I wrote in that 1913 death certificate that "I couldn't find HIM [John Owens, Patrick's brother-in-law, who informed of Patrick's death] in 1911 census. And NO Aghuigowly anywhere." I now (April 2021) know why I couldn't find Aghuigowly... ; it's because it was Aghingowly... The Superintendant Registrar misled me with the misplaced dot...
Here is that brother John - then aged 45, living with his father Frances (aged 77) -
in the 1901 census.
Patrick and Anne (he called her Annie in his 1901 census returns) were
married on Tuesday 14th November 1899.
Here they (Patrick, Annie and Annie) are in the
1901 census returns, and here they (Patrick, Annie, Annie, together with Daniel and Susan, my mother's only brother and sister) are in the
1911 census returns.
While my mother seems to have been named after her mother (I would like to think it an indication of Patrick's love of his wife), her brother and sister would appear to me to have been named after Patrick's own father and mother (see below).
My mother's mother - my grandmother Anne/Annie Owens/Sands -
died on the 17th of January 1918.
And here is page one of Annie's will, which she
on "the 6th day of May nineteen hundred and fourteen", naming (two of) her brothers, Michael and Patrick, as her Executors.
Some comments. Re Residence at the Time of Marriage, what looks like (indeed is in the official document) Rahorn should be Rahoran.
A very happy discovery of 7th April 2021. I have just found
this wonderful site, a compilation of the names of all Teachers Employed by the Commissioners of National Education on 31 March 1905, and, at page 10 of
are the names of my mother's parents, her teachers at primary school: Annie (née Owens) and Patrick Sands. Until I came upon this page I had not known the year of birth of my mother's mother - and I had wrongly thought it to be either 1865 or 1866 - but from this document (which shows that Annie Sands was 42 yrs and 6 months old in the month ending 31st March 1905) I deduce that she must have been born sometime in the month of September 1862. Unfortunately I have been unable to find her birth certificate.
Patrick's parents were Daniel Sands (1831/32 - 1900),
over four months before the birth of his grand-daughter, my mother Annie) and Susan Sands (née Sloan). Here is great-grand-mother Susan in the
1901 census returns, and she
died in 1913, in the month following the
death of her son Patrick, my grand-father.
When I was a child growing up in Bailieboro there was a painting of my mother and her father which hung over the mantlepiece in the dining/sitting room of our home at Henry Street; my grandfather was seated, and my mother - wearing a white dress - stood at her father's right shoulder (how bitterly I regret now that I never asked my mother about it; I was young and lacking in curiosity...).
Where is that painting now? After my mother's death in 1967 I became aware that the painting no longer hung where it had been, but it just didn't occur to me to ask my father what had become of it... I think I know what happened to it, but it is too late now to do anything about it.
My mother's home and ... (3 photos). The top photo (which I am unable to date) is one of the home (in Aghintaine, County Tyrone) of my maternal grandparents and their three children; it was in my mother's possession when she died (May 1967). I recall visiting it once in the late 50s/early 60s, but to my regret I didn't have the slighest interest in it at the time...
A photo taken by Kenneth Allen in 2012 shows the recent state of that house, the no-longer-used Catholic church, and - on the opposite side of the road - the former Aghintaine National School (it ceased to be used as a school in the early 1950s). My maternal grandparents taught in that school from the late 1890s, certainly until my
grandfather died in September 1913. That school - where my mother and her siblings attended - opened in 1886, as evidenced by this
carved stone set into a wall of the school.
The middle (undated) photo shows (at the back) my mother Annie, with her brother Dan and sister Susan ('Susie'), but, given that Susie was
born in 1903, it would be reasonable to date it to the mid 1920s.
The lower photo shows my mother (right) with an unidentified friend (?), undated.
My aunt Susie (a more fervent Catholic than the Pope) told me late in her life that her father - my grandfather - had built the original house with his own hands on a plot of land given to him (on what understanding I cannot know) by the then parish priest, but that he had taken possession of it after the death of her father (or was it after the later death of his wife, my grandmother; I cannot know). Then, in the late 2010s, I learned that the house was up for sale, together with the ruined school opposite, and I contacted the selling agent in Enniskillen, explaining that I would want to buy the
school 1886 plaque... Would they please contact the vendor/new owner to inform of my interest? Oh yes, they would... , but when I heard nothing I contacted again, reminding of my earlier query, and eventually they put me in contact with the vendor. Unfortunately nothing came of my request, though I did learn (is this true?) that the school could not be knocked down as it is now a 'protected building'...
My maternal grandfather's (long-abandoned) birthplace,
myself, visiting my mother's father's homeplace, in June 2017. The house is owned by my second cousin Donal Sands.
Dad's father, Michael, owned a pub, which he bought with money he earned working on the Chicago-Pacific railway (one day I must look into the sailing records, to attempt determine when he sailed across the Atlantic, and when he returned, ... ). The pub is at 'Cosgrove', the third
nameplate on the right hand side, Gort, County Galway). (The building is now a nail varnish salon, and its kind manager showed me inside during a recent visit). My grandfather was 'Cosgrove', but an error on my father's birth certificate led to him
becoming 'Cosgrave'. I only found that out in late 1994, some months before my father died (when I asked my father about this - why didn't they rectify the error - he just said they didn't bother). But, had I not discovered that, then I would never have been able to locate his birthplace, ...
How I found out that I should have been CosgrOve, and not CosgrAve. Sometime towards the end of 1994 I had a visit from a USA-born/based first cousin called Harold (his father and mine were brothers), and his wife Kathleen (she too had Irish family connections). I had only ever met this Harold once before, in the September of 1958, when, on a visit to Ireland, he visited my father (his uncle) in Bailieboro, my hometown. At that time I had just started to attend a boarding school - Gormanstown (a Franciscan establishment), and they - my mother and father, my brother Aidan, and Harold - came to visit me there. It must have been sometime in early September because I ran away from that school on three occasions, after roughly the third, fifth and sixth weeks, and then my parents removed me from that school. Harold's visit could hardly have been after my first abscondment?
But now, back to late 1994... We had a lovely dinner here at our home, and just as they were leaving Harold asked me if I had ever visited the USA, and I told him I had been once - to the Centenary Meeting of the American Mathematical Society in Cincinnati earlier that year - and that I was about to go to San Francisco in January 1995 to attend its Winter Meeting there, and spend some time with my sister Marie before the meeting started... A conversation ensued:
Harold. We have a son, Christopher, living there... you should meet up him if you can. Me. That would be great... Harold. I'll give you his address... (and here my great good fortune was that Harold didn't just write down an address, didn't just write Christopher followed by an address, but wrote out in full: Christopher Cosgrove, followed by Christopher's address...). Me (looking at it, and not just tucking it away). Harold, you've made a mistake here... you've written 'Cosgrove' when it should be 'Cosgrave'. Harold. No, we're Cosgroves, so you are too... Me. No, no, not at all... my father and your father are brothers, my father (and thus so am I) is a Cosgrave, so your father - and thus you - is also a Cosgrave... Harold. No, we have always been Cosgrove, so you must be Cosgrove as well... Me. I think that when Irish people emigrated to the States, landed at Ellis Island or wherever, they would have been asked their name etc, and sometimes errors were made...
We left it at that, and shortly afterwards I spoke to my father about this. That's how I learned about the error on my father's birth certificate... . I didn't get to meet Christopher in San Francisco, but we did meet up subsequently here in Dublin... , but we've lost contact.
Note of Monday 15th March 2021. I have today discovered that my first cousin Harold died on the 28th of June 2018; there's a short obituary here.
Where are Christopher... ? And Harold's sister Irene? I met Irene once: she was visiting my sister 'Kitty' (aka 'Kay', at birth 'Catherine') who was then living in Ballyjamesduff down in our County Cavan. They both came here to have lunch with us one day - oh how dearly I wish I had a photograph from the occasion - and we all remarked on how alike they looked; they could have been sisters. Isn't that extraordinary... this DNA business.
My uncle Tony (date unknown), my father's older brother. This photo was given to me by my sister Marie.
My uncle Tony was born on the 7th of July 1902, and - in the light of what I wrote above at photo #4 (about CosgrOve - CosgrAve) - I was amused to discover Tony's
BIRTH registration, which shows him as being a CosgrAve! On the other hand, his older sister Margaret has a
BIRTH registration, showing her as being a CosgrOve. And, it was the very same J. P. Moran who registered both of them!
My uncle Tony emigrated to the USA sometime in the late 1910s / early 1920s (I must find out one day; see Addendum below), and he later offered
to pay my father's fare to also emigrate; happily Dad stayed here in Ireland. I only saw Tony once - it must have been in the mid/late 1950s when
he made a visit back to Ireland, and he came to Bailieboro to see Dad. I can clearly remember the two of them sitting unhappily together around
the table - Tony with a glass and bottle of whiskey, Dad not a drinker - and it was only in recent years (long after Dad died) that I could imagine the
source of their obvious unhappiness: their mother (my grandmother Catherine Flanagan/McLoughlin/Cosgrove) took her own life on the 17th August
1915, and it was Tony (then only thirteen years and eight days old) who found her body (I have her death certificate, and an inquest report from the
Connacht Tribune, dated 21st August 1915).
What secrets my father and his brother brought with them to their graves...
Because my grandmother's taking of her own life was considered to be a 'mortal sin' by the brutal and inhumane Catholic Church (with its
perverted 'Theology'; yes, yes, "the Church eventually dropped the ban on funerals for suicides from its law code altogether in the 1980s",
touchy-feely has now become fashionable until some other theologian decides otherwise), she could not be buried in a Catholic cemetery, and I
have been unable to determine where she is buried.
Before Catherine married my grandfather, she had been married to a James McLoughlin, whose own first wife Anne (née Fahy)
in Gort on the 4th of March 1890.
James and Anne had a son James, while James and Catherine had a daughter Mary, and then - yet another tragedy - my
grandmother's husband James
in Gort on the 20th of September 1895.
Mary (then aged 8) and her brother James (then aged 11) appear in the
1901 census of my father's parents, but not in the 1911
I would dearly love to know whatever became of Mary and James (I imagine that they emigrated, the common lot of so many Irish at that time).
Addendum and Tribute. I owe a very great debt to a Gort-based nun, the scholarly Sr. Mary DeLourdes Fahy (author of
this wonderful book, Education in the Diocese
of Kilmacduagh in the Nineteenth Century, a book that I once (April 2016) read by the banks of the Seine in Paris, with a map of Galway spread out in front of me, and I thought at the time (1916) that there was no more wonderful book in Paris that this one).
I learned a very great deal from her in relation to my paternal grandfather as seen in
this (rtf) document (this will download, rather
than open). In particular I learned this small detail in relation to my uncle Tony:
"Anthony Cosgrove, born circa 1902 [actually on 7th July 1902] emigrated to New York in 1923. It is stated in the emigration documents that
he was going to his 'aunt' Mrs. Jack Quinn. She was really his stepmother's sister, Norah Dooley, who married Jack Quinn of nearby Corker in
1910, prior to their emigration. Mrs. Nora Quinn died in New York in 1951."
My mother, Annie Sands, looking incredibly like our younger daughter,
My mother and a friend, Maureen McGowan. My mother's parents died in 1913 and 1918, and she and her brother and sister moved from the
Clogher valley area of County Tyrone to live with an uncle (Mum's mother's brother) at 3 Howth Road, Clontarf, just down the road from where I am
typing these words. I think - but cannot be certain - this photo was taken there. Was Mum about 19 in this photo? Mum trained as a teacher in the
inter-denominational Marlborough Street College, but after the
British left the students were split up... Mum transferred to Carysfort College in Blackrock, where I was later to work myself. Mum's father - who
died in 1913 - was a student here in St Patrick's College for the years 1887-89.
My Mum's school,
St Anne's Girls National School, just beside the 'town lake', Bailieboro. The school no longer exists; it was knocked down many years ago, and
now there are houses built there.
Mary's parent's wedding, Monday 1st June 1936, Plymouth, Devon, England.
The top photograph is from the wedding of Mary's parents (mid front row), Frank and Pat (née McMahon) Smyth.
Frank's parents (2nd and 3rd from left, back row) were William and Bessie (née Biscombe) Smith, and Pat's parents (2nd and 3rd from right, back row) were Thomas and Bessie (née Eastlake) McMahon. Pat's sister Rene is on her immediate left.
Mary's grandfathers were both Irish, William from Belfast and Thomas from Cork City. After the wretched Brexit outcome in Britain, Mary decided to become an Irish citizen (she was already Hiberniores Hibernis ipsis, more Irish than the Irish themselves), and, while Mary could have claimed Irish citizenship by virtue of being married to me, her route to citizenship was through her grandfather Thomas McMahon.
The two lower photographs are of Mary and Pat (probably late 1950s), and Pat.
Myself and my sister Catherine (she was 'Kitty' to everyone)
in our 'back yard' at home in Henry Street, Bailieboro, when I was perhaps 3 or 4 (?) months old. Possibly April 1946, when Kay would have
been home from boarding school.
Tony, Aidan (I'm on his back), Kitty
Bailieboro, Spring 1947.
All my family
except my sister Marie (who took the photo?), on holiday in Blackrock, County Louth, 14th August 1948. Left to right: myself, Mum, Tony,
Dad, Aidan, Kitty.
A studio photograph taken in Colman's studio Bailieboro, about the same time as the previous photograph? The Colmans were the first to introduce
photography in the town, but recently, sadly, the traditional family practice came to an end, for obvious reasons.
All my family
except my brother Aidan, who probably took the photo, at our home, Henry Street, Bailieboro, probably in 1949.
cigarette in mouth - I smoked with him in his schoolroom (and at home) when I was aged just 10 years - fishing at the Castle Lake, just outside
Bailieboro. Summer 1957. My brother Aidan probably took that photo, as he also appears at the same scene in the following one.
See previous photo.
Aidan, me, Dad, Kitty, Mum
Mum and Dad in the middle, Mrs and Mrs Paddy Kangley outside them. People from Bailieboro will know them all; the Kangleys ran a pub and
newsagents. I used to buy the Dandy and the Beano from them, later Charlie Buchan's Football Monthly.
Playing cards at the McEvoys
up the road from where we lived, 1958?
Mum and Dad
London, 18th August 1958.
at the blackboard in his school, Bailieboro, 1960.
Mary. My beloved in her teenage years, early 1960s.
Outside Kingswood Hall of Residence of Royal Holloway College.
Left to right: John Fricker, Richard Hoyes, Vianni Waters (at back), Ian Mucklejohn, ?, ?, Bob Pearce, myself (with milk
bottle; I used to drink 4 pints every day), June 1966, at the end of our first year as undergraduates at Royal Holloway College.
myself, and RHC friends
Mick Ganley, myself, and Jimmy Graham Horton, standing atop the triangulation point on Lough an Liath mountain, near my hometown
(Bailieborough), Summer 1967. All three of us had just completed two years of our London Mathematics degree.
Mary and I
at a wedding in Yorkshire, Summer 1970.
Our wedding day
24th July 1971, Plymouth.
Some friends at our wedding.
Left to right: Jimmy Graham Horton, Paul Goodey, myself, Steve Elliott, Mick Ganley and Mike Walker. All of us - apart from Paul (who had been
at King's College London, and who came to Royal Holloway in '68 to do a PhD with H.G. Eggleston) - studied Mathematics at Royal Holloway. Paul
and I shared a house in nearby Staines in the second year of our PhD's, while Mick and Mike did their PhD's with Fred Piper (Mick was Fred's
first PhD student, and Mike his third; Fran(cine) Beesley was in between).
Why was my hair so short (compared to the others)? In the week prior to my marrying Mary it hadn't been... but I went to a
barber and asked for a "short-back-and-sides", which I had never had before. I wrongly thought it meant take a little of the back and a little of
the sides... But, when I opened my eyes: I saw I had been mistaken.
Some more friends at our wedding.
Left to right: Jean Horton, Hillary Ganley, Pat Goodey and Veronica Walker. Hilary studied Mathematics at RHC, while Veronica (like my wife Mary)
studied French there.
These two photograph scans were sent to me in recent years by my friend Jimmy Graham following his working through some old
protographs. (Any more Jimmy Graham?)
Plymouth, Summer 1972.
Left to right: Margaret (Mary's younger sister), Marie (our just recently born daughter, 5th June), Mary, Frank (the happy grandfather),
myself, followed by Jenny (Mary's elder sister) with her husband John, and their two children Anne and Clare.
Jean Horton and Cosgraves.
Jean Horton, myself, Marie (just two years old at the time), and my wife Mary, visiting our friends Jean and Jimmy Graham Horton in the summer
of 1974. We - Mary, Marie and myself - were shortly to depart to Nigeria, intending being there for three years. Fate intervened...
My sister Marie and Dad, Lake Tahoe, California,
Dad graduated as a trained primary school teacher - from the (then)
De La Salle College Waterford
in 2026 (he was just twenty at the time), and his first teaching post was in Navan, County Meath, where he taught for two years before moving
to Bailieboro, County Cavan. Dad taught in Bailieboro until 1974 - he was asked to stay on for three extra years after what should have been
his retirement age in 1971 - and late 1974 he ventured out to California to visit his sister Margaret (see photo #1 above) - and his daughter (my sister)
Marie, who was then working/living in San Francisco.
Myself and daughter Marie
up at the water recevoir, in the hills above Jos, Nigeria, December 1974. (Why was I wearing socks?!)
Mary and our daughter Catherine
(Jos, Nigeria, 13th May 1975; Catherine was 13 days old at the time)
Catherine and I,
(Jos, Nigeria, 13th May 1975).
Catherine, myself and Mary,
(Jos, Nigeria, 13th May 1975). We have no earlier photos of Catherine; we did take some, but they were destroyed at the local
processors. Fortunately we found out in time, and a friend - Walt(er) Potter - took these on his camera, and they survived.
our daughter Marie,
Jos, Nigeria, 13th May 1975.
- The previous four photos were taken by our friend Walt(er) Potter, my colleague in what was (then) the Mathematics Department of the
Jos Campus of Ibadan University, Nigeria (I escaped from there in November 1975 with my wife Mary - she was seriously ill at the time,
having been given a dirty needle injection in the (corrupt) Government hospital - along with our daughters Marie and Catherine).
I visited the United States for the first time in January 1994, when I ventured to Cincinnati to attend the Centenary Meeting of the
American Mathematical Society. Walt was also in Cincinnati for that Meeting, and here we are:
Walt (left) and myself.
Incidentally, at that same Centenary Meeting, I had a wonderful encounter with the renowned Dutch mathematician
Dirk Jan Struik, and I have written about that in a specially created corner
of my website
- After we escaped from Nigeria (late November 1975) I started a new job in Carysfort College, Blackrock, Co. Dublin on the 12th of January 1976. There I (and my wife also) made a wonderful friend: Proinsias Ní Dhorchaí in the Irish Department.
Growing up in Bailieboro - and in the years following until I returned to Ireland at the age of thirty - I had never heard any real traditional
Irish music, and it was a revelation to me to discover the music of the renowned uileann piper
Séamus Ennis. And yet another pathway to discovery was the
wonderful RTÉ radio programme An Droichead Beo (The Living Bridge), presented by Peadar Mercier (oh, if only
RTÉ would repeat it...).
Then - oh joy of joys - through Proinsias we became friends of Peadar, and then later friends of Nuala, Peadar's wife.
"Think where man's glory most begins and ends,
Proinsias was a wonderful flute and tin whistle player, and as there were many talented traditional music players in the student body at Carysfort,
Mary and I used to invite some of them (with Proinsias and Peadar) to play their instruments here at our home (I care to recall Peter McCabe,
Mary Jo Brennan, Maedbbh Ní Lochlainn, Mary and Collette McKenna, and Bríd Coffey).
and say my glory was I had such friends."
The Municipal Gallery Revisited, W. B. Yeats
Through Peadar's friendship with the renowned Tony MacMahon we
once enjoyed a memorable evening when Tony played here (he gave a rendering of Aisling Gheal (Bright Dream), and there wasn't a dry eye
in the house...)
Séamus Ennis was to have played here on another evening, but, when Proinsias went to collect him, he had just gone into hospital, and the
opportunity never came again.
In this photo (taken beside the river Liffey) - left to right -
are Peadar, Dan O'Dowd, Séamus and Proinsias.
Our friend Mel (a son of Peadar and Nuala) made this
wonderful RTÉ documentary about Peadar; immediately, at the beginning, you will hear our beloved friend Nuala (there are some
photos of Nuala and Mel further down this page, ones taken at Mel's wedding, and also on the occasion of our daughter Marie's wedding).
Blackrock seafront, Dublin, Summer 1976, our first summer back in Ireland.
My (our) friend Bob Sandling and myself,
Bob and Judy's home, Stalybridge, April 1978; Bob was my great friend in the Manchester Mathematics department, 1972-74.
Tom Barron, with our daughters Catherine
and Marie. Tom frequently brought us (Mary and I, Catherine and Marie) on trips to the countryside outside Bailieboro; this one was to Skeagh
Lake in August 1981. Tom was a noted historian.
At the Internet Archive there's a short eight minute film, Tom MacIntyre - My Own Place,
a film in which you may see the two Toms (MacIntyre and Barron) talking together. You will also see old Bailieboro as it was in my mid 20s, a place
now long gone.
My father taught Tom MacIntyre for three years in primary school (and Tom's mother taught me in 'baby infants' and 'senior infants').
In later years when I was a Mathematics lecturer in Carysfort College,
Seamus Heaney - the then head of the English Department - invited Tom MacIntyre
to give a talk to the English literature students, and Mary and I invited Seamus, Tom, and friends back to our home for supper. While here, Tom
autographed 'Dance the Dance' (Faber & Faber, 1970) - his wonderful collection of short stories - for me.
Dad with his sister Brigid,
Sister Mary Anthony, London, Sept 1983.
Andy Baker and myself, Plymouth,
mid-April 1984. I can remember what I was trying to explain to Andy at the time!
Mary's Mum and Dad
Frank and 'Pat' Smyth (Pat was born Elizabeth McMahon), 50th wedding anniversary, 1st June 1986.
My friend Bob Sandling (Bob did his PhD with the renowned
John G. Thompson)
in Bob's office at the university, May 1987. I was there to give a talk on my Euclid theorem.
- I went to boarding school in Cowley (Oxford) for the years 1962-65, and I maintained only one friendship amongst my fellow boarders: Donald Johnstone. Subsequently Donald worked (as a top translator) in Paris for the greater part of his life, and we stayed with him in Paris for the first time in 1989 (the year of the bi-centenary of the French Revolution).
This photo shows Mary and Donald together on a trip to Versailles.
Montpellier, August 1992.
also Montpellier, August 1992. Quiero estar con ella para siempre.
myself, and my brothers and
sisters, in the Bailie hotel in Bailieboro, 20th March 1995, following the burial of our father Seán. From left to right Kay, Marie,
Aidan, myself, and Tony. This is the only photograpy that I have of all of us together.
myself, and RHC friends
Pamela Idelson, Jimmy Graham Horton, and Graham Almandras, London, 9th July 1995. Royal Holloway had arranged a thirty year reunion
for students of Mathematics and English who had entered college in September 1965.
Mary and Swati, London, 14th July 1995. Swati Mukherjee (born in
Kolkata) was a very dear friend (of whom we saw far too little); her husband was Ratan Mukherjee (to whom I owe more than I could possibly express
One of Swati's brothers was the renowned sitarist Nikhil Banerjee, the
musician I love most above all others.
And here is another friend, their daughter
Sheema, outside our home on
Sunday, 23rd June 1985, two days after she had
accompanied her uncle at his Friday
21st June Dublin concert ("It happens perhaps a handful of times in a lifetime, an experience such as we had on Friday evening at
Carysfort College, Blackrock, when the outstanding Indian musician, Nikhil Banerjee (sitar), with Anindo Chatterjee (tabla) and Sheema Mukherjee
(tanpura), performed. ... Hopefully, a return visit will be possible, which nobody who believes in music would want to miss.", Dr. Barra Boydell,
Irish Times, Monday 24th June 1985. Here is the entire
Irish Times review.
Swati with our
daughters Catherine and Marie outside our home on the morning of Sunday 23rd June 1985. Happy, memorable days.
- In July 1999 I was the fortuitous discoverer of the (then) largest known composite Fermat number (in mathematical notation it was the number
F382447 = 2(2382447) + 1, a number so large, that it could not be written out in the entire universe);
I wrote extensively about it here.
The real credit for this discovery goes to Yves Gallot, the remarkable French engineer/mathematician who wrote the Proth software which
made it possible. The enlightened French Embassy in Dublin invited Yves and his wife Lucile to spend four days here, and my wife and I arranged
a party here at our home to celebrate their visit.
In this photo of Friday 29th October
1999 I am presenting Yves with a specially prepared cake; that's our friend Nuala looking happily on from the side.
While on the subject of Fermat, here is a photo
of me standing alongside a statue of Fermat somewhere in Toulouse (where he lived, and where Yves and Lucile live), when Mary and I visited there
in April 1996. In Toulouse - where our daughter Catherine was spending a year at the time in the university's Law Faculty - I came upon a
Rue Fermat (I cannot find a photo of me standing under the street sign bearing his name), and recall having a coffee in a cafe on it. To my
dismay, when I asked the staff if they knew anything about Fermat, I just drew a blank (but then, I daresay, if I asked most people on O'Connell
Street if they knew who (the great) Jim Larkin was, I might also get blank stares).
My brother Tony, with Wendy Richard and her husband
John Burns in some London pub (date unknown).
Wendy was a well-known British actress, and she and Tony used to play cards
together every Sunday afternoon for years. I never met her, but there was something she did which make me like her at a distance: the BBC,
marking some anniversary in her broadcasting life, asked Wendy for a list of people whom she would like to invite to the event, and she included
Tony. Fair dues to you Wendy!
Wendy pre-deceased my brother by a little over six months; Tony died early in the morning of Tuesday 15th September 2009. Later that morning I
contacted Wendy's London agent (Angel & Francis) to ask if they would get a message to John Burns, but they already knew of Tony's death: John
himself had let them know...
My sister Marie and myself in the garden of her Mill Valley
duplex, 25th May 2013. My sister Marie - who trained as a nurse/midwife in London in the late 40s - emigrated to Canada in the mid 50s,
ending up in Calgary, and moved south to San Francisco in the early 60s, remaining there for the rest of her life.
- On Wed 21st April 2007 Mary and I attended the wedding of our friends Mel (Mercier) and Maura O'Keeffe, and here I show just three
photographs from that memorable day:
Nuala and Mel,
Nuala and John,
and Mary and Dara, Dara, a grandson of Nuala's.
- When our friend Mel was a member of the Music Department in University College Cork (first as a lecturer, then Professor and Head of Dept.)
his third year specialist students used to give an annual Gamelan performance. For a number of years Mary and I, and Nuala (with other Merciers)
used to go down for the performances. Happy times.
On our visit of March 1st 2013 I managed to take some pre-performance photos (just on my cheap Nokia mobile) of the Gamelan
instruments, and here is a selection:
and various close-ups,
09 and 09.
Truly they are objects of great beauty. It was Mel himself who commissioned their construction in Indonesia, was there for their
performance blessing (at which he was present), and arranged their transportation to Ireland.
- In May 2007 I started my research visits to Karl Dilcher in Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and over the next several
years we published ten (beautiful, I think) papers.
One of Karl's colleagues was the wonderful Srinivasa Swaminathan; Swami (who knew
of my love for Indian music) and I used to have regular dinners together in a downtown Indian restaurant. He once told me that when the great
Gandhi was visiting Madras (as it was then called) in the 1940s, and addressed a gathering (not in Tamil - a Carnatic language - but in Hindi), Swami
told me that he had translated Gandhi's words for the listeners...
Here is a photo of Karl and Swami together at
a departmental party, marking Pi Day in March 2014.
- On Friday 5th October 2007 our daughter Marie married David McMunn. Here is our friend
Nuala Mercier, with (left-to-right)
Margaret (Mary's younger sister), Jen (Mary's older sister), Chris (Margaret's husband), and John (Jen's husband).
- My great old Bailieboro pal Brian McFadden,
Sat. 29th May 2010, visiting the Old Moybologue Cemetery.
Brian and I go back a very long way, to the early/mid 1950s. Brian's father - Charlie McFadden (taught by my father in primary school) -
was a great local character; Charlie and his wife Kay (née O'Connor, from Kerry) met after the 39-45 war. Charlie and a brother were
in the British army (N. Africa, up through Italy...), another brother - the youngest of them - Pat McFadden was in the
Glider Pilot Regiment,
in the group tasked with taking the bridge at Arnhem (and a son of his - another
Pat, born in London after the war - now lives back in Bailieboro, his father's hometown).
Kay was a nurse with the British in (the then) Burma.
Many's the happy hour I spent in their home on Anne's St., just around the corner from my family.
We visited Portugal for the first time in September 2013, staying for four/five nights in each of Lisbon, Sisimbra and Ericeira. From Lisbon
we made a day trip to Sintra (a delightful train journey) and walked to the top of the local hilltop, en route passing a house in which Hans Christian
for a while.
Returning to Sintra from our hilltop walk we fell into the wonderful Fabrica das Verdadeiras Queijadas da Sapa; here is
Mary in its lovely cafe, which - at the time - we had entirely to ourselves.
And here are the gorgeous pastries which we had with our coffees.
Leaving, and paying, I waved my hand over the cafe's display tray and said in my best Portugese: Paraíso. The girl smiled at me as
she completely understood why I said it. (On our second visit to Portugal I was delighted that my Eu gostaria de uma fatia de bolo de chocolate,
por favor was understood. I benefited by some brief studies with the excellent
Fiftieth anniversary reunion,
17th September 2015. In 2015, Royal Holloway organised a fifty year reunion for students who went up there in September 1965 (the
first intake of male undergraduate students). During the year 1965-1966 a new extension to Kingswood (the men's Hall of Residence) was being built, and it opened in time for use in September 1966. The Hall was divided up into little pockets of eight rooms, and those of us in this photograph (all
mathematicians) occupied one of those corridors (we were the Maths corridor).
Left to right (sharing a table in the College's renowned
myself, Steve Elliott, Graham Almandras, Pamela Idelson (who also studied Mathematics), Jimmy Graham Horton, Graeme Norris,
Robin Shakeshaft, Mick Ganley (partly hidden) and Alan Ellis.
On that day my wife Mary sat at another table with the French 1965-1969 gang (one year spent in France). See the next photo.
The same reunion.
Left to right: Kathy, Flott, Mary, Lesley and Anna.
When Mary went up to Royal Holloway in January 1965 to be interviewed by members of the French Department (and also by some member
of the College's Administration), she sat outside the interview room waiting to be called, when out the door burst Lesley who declared (so Mary tells me): "I never want to set foot in this place ever again" (but of course she did!).
Later that year, in September, when Mary was taking the train from Plymouth up to Reading to catch another train directly to Royal Holloway,
she found herself in a carriage with (the previously unknown to her) Anna - who had journeyed from Oxford - also heading for Royal Holloway.
Mary tells me that the first person she spoke to at Royal Holloway on her first evening there, in the dinner queue, was Flott.
Incidentally, when I was interviewed for a place at Royal Holloway that very same January, my five person Mathematics interview panel -
consisted of (the renowned) Professor William McCrea,
Professor Keogh, (the loveable) Dr. Mary Bradburn,
Dr. Barbara Yates (evidently the first Irishwoman to obtain a PhD
in Mathematics), and Dr. Gearoid de Barra.
is Lesley in a photograph with Mary and Flott, one which dates from September 1967 when they spent some days at the Sorbonne in preparation for their year as assistantes d'enseignement in France.
- left to right - are Anna, Kathy, Pamela, Flott, Lesley, John and Mary in January 2001 on the occasion of Flott being awarded the
Chevalier dans la Legion d'Honneur by the French Government.
Colm Flanagan and myself
at Tyrone House, Galway, 27th April 1916.
(A photo I took of Tyrone House.)
In March 2016 Mary and I stayed at the Lady Gregory hotel in Gort (my father's hometown), principally so that I could discover what I could of my grandmother's homeplace, knowing only that she hailed from Laughile, and had attended Lough Cutra school (entering there in January 1867, when Michael Cusack was the school principal). Helpful staff there had put me in touch with a wonderful local farmer - Colm Flanagan - whose children attended the modern school, and - miracle of miracles! - who farmed in the very location where my grandmother's parents had also farmed. (How dearly I would love that Colm and I be cousins...)
Mary and Colm, on the road leading
to my grandmother's homeplace, 27th April 1916. Colm is pointing out his farm to Mary.
My grandmother Catherine's path to her
school. Colm Flanagan was able (with local knowledge) to identify the very spot on which my grandmother's parents' home had stood
(for which they paid rent to an English landlord, Lord Gough) - it was just to the right of the gate in this photograph. There is now a
modern bungalow standing on the original site (I couldn't bear to take a photograph of it).
Knowing the locality intimately, Colm was strongly of the view that in order to get to her school by the shortest path (by far), my grandmother
Catherine would have walked the path through that gate... (How often in my imagination have I trod that path...)