Carrickfergus-born mathematician’s rebellion, adventure and success in America


Poster about Adrain event
Presentation Poster

30 September 2015, Carrickfergus-born mathematician’s life story adds up to a tale of rebellion, adventure and acclaimed academic success in America

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council is hoping that it has the formula for a successful event taking place in Carrickfergus Museum & Civic Centre. Covering the life of Robert Adrain (1775-1843) – who was born near Kilroot – a public talk is to take place about the United Irishman and famed mathematician as a key part of the initiative. A direct descendant of Adrain – the respected academic Stiofán Ó Direáin – will be delivering the address on 30th September as the project’s launch event. Ó Direáin has researched the topic in depth, including the family’s origins.

Robert Adrain
Robert Adrain

Among many other facets, he will explain that Adrain’s homestead has been traced to the Rawbrae area near Kilroot and will examine his ancestor’s participation in the 1798 United Irish Rebellion and how although badly wounded, he went on to greater things. Shot in the back and left for dead he eventually escaped to New York, where he stayed with the widow of his commanding officer Wolfe Tone, leader of the ill-fated rebellion.

The Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough, Councillor Billy Ashe said: “Having originally taught in his local school back home in Ballycarry, Robert Adrain then turned once more to his teaching career. Rising to become a well-respected Professor of Mathematics, he held a number of posts at various prestigious institutions, finishing his career as Vice Provost of the University of Pennsylvania. Adrain’s contributions to the field of mathematics was considerable and he is credited with raising the standard of the subject. He still ranks as one of the most important mathematicians of his day,” he said.

Robert Adrain
Robert Adrain

In addition to the exhibition and public talk the Carrickfergus Museum will be delivering a Maths in Action day for local schools. Aimed at Year 10 students, this event will take the form of a range of ‘hands on’ activities featuring the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications Mathematics outreach kits and will be delivered with the help of staff from the School of Computing and Mathematics at Ulster University. “Families can also join in the fun by picking up a free Carrickfergus Maths Trail, available from the Visitor Information Centre,” Cllr Ashe continued. “With prizes to be won, where else could you learn about maths and history at the same time?”

Following the placement of a blue plaque dedicated to Adrain by the Ulster History Circle in June 2014 Carrickfergus Museum has been sponsored by the London Mathematical Society (LMS) in developing this project as part of the prestigious Society’s 150th Anniversary celebrations. The exhibition will be on display in Carrickfergus Museum from 26th September – 31st October. For more information and to book a place at the launch event please tel: 028 9335 8241 or email:

Blackberries: Hedgerow Harvest Event 13th September

Blackberry Picking Poster Jamee & Calyn Peart Blackberries

The ‘Hedgerow Harvest’ event aims to celebrate the humble blackberry and takes place at Eden Allotment Gardens, Carrickfergus, on Sunday 13th September from 2pm-3.30pm.

Suitable for all ages, so everyone is welcome to come along to this free event at which Mid and East Antrim Borough staff will lead a blackberry-picking expedition around the allotments.

Those taking part will then have the chance to turn their harvest into their very own jam. Participants are asked to bring along their own baskets and get harvesting.

Hedgerows are an incredibly undervalued resource that are in danger of being lost from the countryside. In the past hedges were used as larders of healthy seasonal food – apples, berries and nuts were collected as a healthy tasty supplement to the diet.

End August 2015 events Carrickfergus Parks

Sunflower Competition – NOW!

It’s time to measure your sunflower! Entrants aged 15 and under should measure the size of their sunflower during the last week of August using a metric tape measure and complete the entry form, and return by the 1st September to: Carrickfergus in Bloom, Museum & Civic Centre, 11 Antrim Street, Carrickfergus. Application forms are available from Council buildings, local press or can be downloaded at:

Outdoor Theatre – A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Friday 28th August

On Friday 28th August 2015 in Shaftesbury Park, Carrickfergus. Gates open 6.30pm, show starts 7.30pm. Set on that most dangerous of nights when fairies are abroad and nothing is as it seems four young, unsuspecting, lovers become entangled in their magical affray and soon no mortals are safe in those bewitched and bewitching woods outside Athens….  Admission is FREE but entry is strictly on a first come, first-served basis, so arrive early to avoid disappointment. Link:

Salthill Community Fun Day – Saturday 29th August

Come along to the community fun day on Saturday 29th August from 12 to 4pm. at Salthill Playing Fields, Carrickfergus. There will be plenty of fun for all the family including an assault course, bungee run, bouncy castles, petting zoo and much more! FREE Event.  Link:

Teddy Bears Picnic, Carrickfergus – Monday 31st August

If you go down to the woods today, you’re in for a big surprise… the annual and always very popular Teddy Bears’ Picnic returns to Marine Gardens on Monday 31st August 2015 from 12 to 4pm. The event features an abundance of teddy bear- themed entertainment for all of the family! Particularly aimed at pre-school and primary school children. FREE Event. Link: