Hennessy, Henry

Henry Hennessy (1826-1901)            
Engineer / Physicist

Henry Hennessy was born in Cork in 1826.  His father was a hide merchant and his mother’s family were butter merchants.  He was educated in Cork by Michael Healy in classics, mathematics and modern languages but he was not university educated.

Henry Hennessy trained as an engineer but kept an interest in mathematics and physics.  At age 17, he read a paper to the British Association for the Advancement of Science concerning a simple apparatus for determining the distance of objects.  He continued to do research and publish in prestigious journals with the hope of obtaining a university position.  He was appointed librarian of Queen’s College Cork (now UCC) in 1849.  In 1855 Cardinal Newman appointed him as Professor of Physics at the Catholic University in Dublin.  He later became professor of Applied Mathematics at the Royal College of Science in 1874 and became Dean of the College in 1880.

Hennessy’s scientific interests were wide ranging including mechanics, metrology, and meteorology.  He was interested in promoting institutions for Roman Catholics particularly with regard to the sciences.

Henry Hennessy was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1858 and was Vice-President of the Royal Irish Academy from 1870-1873.  He died in Bray, County Wicklow in 1901.

Further Reading:

Mollan, C.  2007.  It’s Part of What We Are, Dublin. Royal Dublin Society.

Dictionary of National Biography.


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