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:

Museum Artworks Exhibition Opens Carrickfergus From Saturday 5th September

Poster for Ways of Seeing Exhibition
Ways of Seeing Flyer

An exhibition of museum artworks from across Mid and East Antrim Borough and Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough opens in Carrickfergus this weekend.

From Saturday 5th September, Ways of Seeing, A Sense of Place will be on display in Carrickfergus Museum and Civic Centre, and is the first of four venues to host this innovative exhibition.

Many of the artworks displayed have not been exhibited to the public previously and highlight buildings of historical value from across Ballymena, Carrickfergus, Larne and Newtownabbey.

Visitors to the exhibition can enjoy 21 artworks including art by Irish artists Gerard Dillion and Norman Wilkinson as well as artworks by local and amateur artists. The exhibition outlines the contributions made by community groups, photos of the project and includes their input. It is also an intergenerational project with younger visitors able to enjoy free digital engagement workshops as well.

The Ways of Seeing, A Sense of Place exhibition runs until October 10th opening times: 10am- 3pm. The exhibition tour will continue to:

  • Larne Museum and Arts Centre 16th Oct – 21 Nov
  • Children’s Workshop 24th October 11am -1pm (booking essential)
  • Mid Antrim Museum Ballymena 10th Dec 2015 – 6th Feb 2016
  • Museum at the Mill, Newtownabbey 4th March  – 26th March 2016
  • Children’s Workshop 12th March 1pm – 3pm (booking essential)

Booking should be via the Mid Antrim Museums Service, telephone 028 2563 5031.