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RBSS Programme 2016

RBSS Programme 2016

The 6th Robert Boyle Summer School

will take place from 22-25th June 2017

at Lismore Co Waterford

and address the theme "What s science for?"

the programme hasn't been finalised yet.


5th Robert Boyle Summer School took place from 23rd – 26th June 2016 at Lismore, Co Waterford and addressed the theme "Science and Irish Identity"



More about the 2016 school:

Ireland’s literary and musical achievements are well acknowledged home and abroad and celebrated in many successful and long established summer schools. The Robert Boyle Summer School was established to explore the place of science in our heritage and culture and the 2016 School will address the theme “Science and Irish Identity”. This theme will resonate with the commemorations of the 1916 Rising and the Battle of the Somme and the school will take place in between these events from 23-26 June. The theme presents the opportunity to explore different Irish Identities not in terms of conflict but in their involvement in and attitudes towards science.


Thursday 23rd June

Morning session

The Robert Boyle Show with Eoin Gill will visit Cappoquin Primary School and St Carthage's Nursing home to tell the Boyle story.

Eoin Gill is a Director of CALMAST at Waterford Institute of Technology, which organises numerous public events in science and engineering, including Maths Week.  He has a long term interest in Robert Boyle and is deeply committed to celebrating his place in science and culture in Ireland.

Evening Session  7pm

Rev Samuel Haughton FRS MD Scientist, Scholar, Priest, Doctor: Whither Identity

Prof Jim Malone is Robert Boyle Professor of Medical Physics (emeritus) and former Dean of Health Sciences at TCD. He is consultant with UN's International Atomic Energy Agency and World Health Organisation.

Samuel Haughton is famous for many contributions to mathematics, medicine, and geology among others.  He ensured the survival of the Zoo and the Trinity Medical School in Dublin.  Perhaps his most extraordinary contribution was to devise a method of hanging that was both humane and that achieved some notoriety.

Friday 24th June

Morning Session


Prof Willie Donnelly, President Waterford Institute of Technology

10 am

Innovation 2020: Ireland’s new strategy for scientific research, development and innovation and Science Foundation Ireland’s programmes

Prof Mark Ferguson, Director General Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Advisor to the Government of Ireland.

11 am

From West Street to Botany: a journey of drug discovery

Dr Florence McCarthy, a Lismore native, leads a team of researchers in medicinal and pharmaceutical chemistry investigating the synthesis and evaluation of diverse bioactive molecules with the objective  of developing  novel molecules for the treatment of diseases such as cancer and HIV at the Department of Chemistry University College Cork.

12 pm

Science and its Publics in Irish culture

Dr Brian Trench, Science Journalist, academic and cultural commentator. Former Senior Lecurer at DCU where he founded the Masters in Science Communication. President of PCST - the International Network for Public Communication of Science and Technology. Formerly senior lecturer in DCU, where he founded an MSc in Science Communication.

Afternoon Session


Prof Kieran Taaffe, Chairman Robert Boyle Foundation. Emeritus Dean of International Studies, Dublin Institute of Technology,

3 pm

as the inspiration for,
what the Parsons family has sought to achieve,
as a scientific contribution towards a better world

Sir Brendan Parsons, 7th Earl of Rosse, spent over 20 years as a UN official in the developing world.  This brought him face to face with aspects of Irish identity and ingenuity.  He, and his family created and continue to preserve an important part of Irish Scientific Heritage at Birr Castle.


7 pm

BBQ at Lismore Castle with locally produced food by Eunice Power and local traditional music, song and dance.

10 - Late

seisiún ceol in local hostelry

Saturday 25th June

Morning Session



Prof Colm Mulcahy, Spelman College Atlanta GA USA and curator of Archive of Irish Mathematics and Mathematicians

10 am

The Boyles of Cork and identity formation in seventeenth-century Ireland

Prof Jane Ohlmeyer, Erasmus Smith's Professor of Modern History Trinity College Dublin, Chair of Irish Research Council. She has published extensively on early modern Irish and British history.

11 am

Science and Mathematics and the Making of Modern Ireland

Dr David Attis,senior director of academic research with the Education Advisory Board (EAB). Author ofMathematics and the Making of Modern Ireland: Trinity College Dublin from Cromwell to the Celtic Tiger


3 pm

Hedge School

Tommy Graham will chair a Panel Discussion exploring Science and Irish Identity

Tommy Graham is editor of History Ireland, a presenter of Newstalk’s ‘Talking History’, he’s also a regular contributor to the station’s Moncrieff show. At the 2010 Electric Picnic he kicked off his latest project, History Ireland Hedge Schools, an ongoing series of round table discussions of historical and contemporary interest.

5 pm

A Mystic Dream of 4

Iggy McGovern and friends will present a series of sonnets exploring the life of one of Ireland's great scientists, William Rowan Hamilton.  These will tell us much of his life, identity and the place of science 19th century culture. Iggy McGovern is retired physics professor at TCD and author of several collections of poetry.


7 pm

School Dinner Lismore House Hotel

Sunday 26th June


Eoin Gill, Director Calmast, Waterford Institute of Technology

11 am

On Boyle's Forms and Qualities

Bill Eaton Associate Professor of Modern Philosophy at Georgia Southern University will explain the importance both in philosophy and science of a book Boyle published 350 years ago titled "The Origin of forms and Qualities according to the corpuscular philosophy illustrated by (1) considerations and (2) experiments".

12 pm

Flights of fancy: technology, culture and colonialsm in Ireland 1880-1922

Prof Luke Gibbons, Professor of Irish Literary and Cultural Studies, Maynooth University. He has published widely on Irish culture and literature on subjects as diverse as the Quiet Man and Edmund Burke but is best known as a Joycean and his recent book "Joyce's Ghosts: Ireland Modernism and Memory" (Chicago University Press 2016) has received worldwide critical acclaim.


Continuing our tradition this year we will continue to celebrate what Boyle was doing 350 years ago. This year we will consider Boyle's famous Hydrostatical Experiments of 1666 and Prof Bill Eaton of Southern Georgia University will reveal why Boyle's other 1666 book "Origin of Forms and Qualities" is a seminal work in philosophy and science of the early modern period.


Robert Boyle (1627 – 1691) was born in Lismore Castle, County Waterford, Ireland. The youngest son of the Great Earl of Corke he was to devote his life to philosophy becoming one of the leading thinkers of the age known as the scientific revolution. Although he practised alchemy, Boyle is known as the Father of Modern Chemistry, as his book the Sceptical Chymist (1661) helped establish chemistry on a scientific footing. He conducted seminal investigations with vacuums and the behaviour of gases, in physics, the life sciences, haematology, medicine, philosophy and theology.


For assistance on accommodation and more Info contact

Lismore Heritage centre

Phone       058 54975
or email





The fee for all talks is remarkable value at €60.

Early Bird today at  €50


Booking at Eventbrite Click Here

For assistance on accommodation and more Info contact

Lismore Heritage Centre

Phone       058 54975
or email    ao’



The Robert Boyle Summer School is organized through a collaborative effort involving Calmast Science outreach centre at Waterford Institute of Technology, the Lismore Heritage Centre and the Robert Boyle Foundation. The summer school is supported by Lismore Castle, business and industry and public bodies.

The organizing committee includes Dr Sheila Donegan (Calmast Waterford Institute of Technology), Prof Jim Malone (Emeritus Robert Boyle Professor Trinity College Dublin), Paul Nugent (Institute of Physics Teachers Coordinator), An tOllamh Annraoi de Paor (iar-Ollamh Innealtóireacht Leictreach UCD), Mealla Fahy (Manager Lismore Heritage Centre) and Eoin Gill (Calmast Waterford Institute of Technology).

NB there may be changes to the schedule.


Thanks to the supporters of Robert Boyle Summer School 2016:

we are currently discussing other sponsorship arrangements. If you would like to support the school please email



The Robert Boyle Foundation