AI4EU Café presents: George Boole (1815-1864), the father of computing.


On Wendesday, on May 13th, 2020  at 3 pm

Title: George Boole (1815-1864), the father of computing.

The Speaker is:

Crónán Ó Doibhlin (Head of Research Collections, University College Cork, Ireland)

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Crónán will talk about:

The papers of George Boole (1815-1864), first Professor of Mathematics at Queen’s College Cork (University College Cork), are now housed in the Boole Library, University College, Cork. The inventor of Boolean logic, George Boole laid the foundations in the latter half of the nineteenth century for a system of mathematical expression which formed the basis for modern computing.

The collection consists mainly of personal letters to and from Boole which were collected by his sister Maryann, who had hoped one day to publish a biography of her famous brother. This archive offers us insights into the life of George Boole from the period immediately prior to his arrival in Cork in 1849, until his death in 1864.  Drafts of unpublished lectures dealing with such topics as astronomy, ancient mythology, education and one entitled "Are the Planets Inhabited?" are extant.

Boole’s letters home to his sister after his arrival in Ireland also contain valuable social information on the Cork of the mid-nineteenth century, in the wake of the Irish Famine.The insights Boole’s letters give into the world of nineteenth century academia can be amusing as well as informative

A section of the collection contains material relating to Boole’s wife, Mary Everest, (after whose uncle the world’s highest peak was named), and their five daughters. One daughter, Mary Ellen Hinton spent some years in Japan as a teacher at the close of the century. Her diary, which contains wonderful descriptions of the sights she saw and people she met, is preserved here. Another daughter, Ethel Lilian Voynich, was the author of the novel ‘The Gadfly’ which she wrote after an affair with the renowned secret agent, Sydney Reilly.

The Boole papers of UCC provide valuable information for social historians of the nineteenth century in Ireland, researchers interested in the development of Irish university and academic life, and researchers interested in both the development of Cork City and UCC. They provide a unique insight into the life and mind of one of the most brilliant and respected mathematicians of the nineteenth century.

This talk will give an overview of the collection and also outline plans for a collaborative project between The Royal Society, London, and the University of Lincoln, who both hold complementary Boole collections, to unite their collection virtually on a shared public platform.


Crónán Ó Doibhlin is the Head of Research Collections, University College Cork, Ireland.  He has been a member of UCC Library’s Senior Management Team since 2005 working closely with the Director of Library Services and the Director of Information Services (University Librarian), and was part of the team that delivered a €27m PRTLI funded redevelopment of UCC Library including the transformation of Special Collections and Archives. Crónán’s core responsibilities are in leading the strategic development, organisation and management of Collections Services (Acquisitions & Cataloguing) including library budgets.  He also supports the Director of Information Services & the Development Office with Alumni and External Relations including fundraising. He is a recent Alumni of the LIBER Emerging Leaders Programme (2017-18), and has also represented UCC Library on a number of national committees.

Crónán was previously Librarian of the Cardinal Ó Fiaich Library & Archive with responsibility for Diocesan Collections.  His primarily interests are in Gaelic Literature and manuscripts, and radical and avant-garde publishing.

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