The power of two: how a pair of women shaped Irish scientific advancements Cumhacht na beirte: an chaoi a ndeachaigh beirt bhan i bhfeidhm ar dhul chun cinn na heolaíochta in Éirinn

Ladies of Science documentary poster

When Mary Rosse, the wife of the 3rd Earl of Rosse, met Mary Ward, the Earl’s cousin, young women in Ireland were still commonly educated in the home in preparation for the domestic duties their lives would undertake. But these two women had their sights set on the stars. See the story of how they set about changing Irish astronomical history in Ladies of Science.

Nuair a bhuail Mary Rosse, bean chéile thríú hIarla Rosse, le Mary Ward, gaol leis an Iarla, ba ghnách oideachas a chur ar mhná óga na hÉireann sa bhaile chun iad féin a réiteach le haghaidh na ndualgas tí a bheadh le déanamh acu lena linn sin. Beirt bhan an-uaillmhianach a bhí ann ámh. Féach an scéal atá ann i Mná na hEolaíochta faoin gcaoi ar thosaigh siad stair réalteolaíochta na hÉireann a athrú.

In the 1800s in Ireland and Great Britain, professions in such fields as politics and science, while not expressly restricted to just one gender, were nonetheless decidedly masculine in practice. Thus, it was very challenging indeed for a woman with the desire and the means to venture into the well-established career realms of men, much less get her foot in the door as a respected colleague.

Yet two women in Ireland, Mary Rosse (née Field) and Mary Ward (née King), did just this in the mid-1800s, and the story of their fortuitously intersecting lives is at once fascinating, inspiring, and tragic.

Mary Rosse was born in Yorkshire in 1813, one of two daughters of a wealthy estate owner named John Wilmer Field. With no sons to share his knowledge and passions with, John Field instead ensured the sisters received a first-class education that included mathematics and science. By the time she was married, in 1836, to William Parsons, 3rd Earl of Rosse, Mary had developed a keen skill for photography and was an accomplished blacksmith.

Mary Ward, from what is now Ferbane, in County Offaly, was born in 1827, the youngest child of the King family of renowned scientists. A keen stargazer and naturalist as well as a talented artist, Mary would often visit her cousin William Parsons and his wife, Mary Rosse, at their home in Birr, where she would document the pair’s ambitious scientific occupations.

Ward, a published artist and author, and one of only three women on the mailing list for the Royal Astronomical Society (the others were Queen Victoria and Mary Somerville, a scientist for whom Somerville College at Oxford University was named), turned her documentary sketching skills to detailing the Rosse couple’s undertaking to build the Leviathan of Parsonstown, a reflecting telescope with a six-foot mirror which remained the world's largest until 1917 - a technical marvel in its time. It was from this telescope that the very first spiral galaxies were identified and photographed, marking a new era of scientific discovery and putting Ireland’s scientific prowess on the map.

The story of what these two talented and accomplished scientists contributed to the fields of astronomy, photography, and the natural world is celebrated in a new documentary called Ladies of Science, to be screened specially in Offaly during Heritage Week 2016. The hour-long docu-drama recounts how these two remarkable women, undeterred by the strict gender roles of their time, set about changing the face of science and technology in Ireland and around the world. It makes for absorbing, thought-provoking viewing, perfect for curious folks of all ages.

The screenings, organised by Offaly Library Service, are free, but booking is required.

When and Where: August 24th, 3.30pm - 4:30pm, Birr Library; August 25th, 6.30pm - 7.30pm, Ferbane Library

Learn more about this event here, or visit Heritage Week Offaly online.
 

 

 

Le linn na 1800idí in Éirinn agus sa Bhreatain Mhór, ba ghnách le fir bheith i mbun gairme i réimsí ar nós na polaitíochta agus na heolaíochta, cé go mbíodh teacht ar an dá inscne ar na réimsí sin. Mar sin, níorbh aon dóithín é do bhean a raibh fonn uirthi tabhairt faoi réimse gairme bunaithe agus seanbhunaithe na bhfear agus a raibh d’acmhainn aici é sin a dhéanamh, gan trácht ar chaitheamh léi mar chomhghleacaí ar a raibh meas.

Ba iad beirt bhan in Éirinn ámh, mar a bhí Mary Rosse (née Field) agus Mary Ward (née King), a rinne amhlaidh i lár na 1800idí, agus scéal fíorshuimiúil spreagúil tragóideach is ea scéal na beirte a chas ar a chéile trí sheans.

In Yorkshire a rugadhMary Rosse in 1813, iníon de bheirt iníonacha a bhí ag tiarna talún saibhir darbh ainm John Wilmer Field. Agus gan mac ar bith aige lena chuid eolais agus le rudaí ar spéis leis a roinnt, chinntigh John Field go bhfuair na deirfiúracha oideachas den scoth a raibh an mhatamaitic agus an eolaíocht mar chuid de. Faoin am ar phós sí William Parsons, tríú hIarla Rosse, in 1836, bhí an-scil ag Mary sa ghrianghrafadóireacht agus ba shárghabha í.

Rugadh Mary Ward in 1827. Ba as an áit ar a dtugtar An Féar Bán i gContae Uíbh Fhailí sa lá atá inniu ann di. Ba ise an páiste ab óige de mhuintir King. Eolaithe a raibh an-cháil orthu ba ea iad. Réadóir agus nádúraí ag a raibh dúil mhór sna hábhair úd agus ealaíontóir cumasach a bhí inti chomh maith. Ba mhinic a thugadh Mary cuairt ar William Parsons, gaol léi, agus ar Mary Rosse, a bhean chéile, ag a dteach cónaithe i mBiorra, áit a ndéanadh sí gníomhaíochtaí forásacha eolaíochta na díse a thaifeadadh.

B’ealaíontóir agus scríbhneoir foilsithe, agus duine de thriúr ban a bhí ar liosta seoltaí an Royal Astronomical Society (Cumann Ríoga na Réalteolaíochta) (ar a raibh an Bhanríon Victoria agus Mary Somerville, eolaí ar ainmníodh Somerville College in ómós di) í Ward féin. Thug sí faoina scileanna sceitseála faisnéise a úsáid chun cur síos a dhéanamh ar thogra phéire Rosse le Leviathan of Parsontown a thógáil, teileascóp frithchaiteach a raibh scáthán sé troithe ann. Bhíodh sé ar an gceann ba mhó ar domhan go dtí an bhliain 1917 - ar iontas teicniúil lena linn é. Ba ón teileascóp seo a rinneadh na chéad bhíseanna a aithint agus grianghraif a ghlacadh díobh, rud a chuir tús le ré nua na fionnachtana eolaíochta agus a tharraing cáil ar ghaisce eolaíochta na hÉireann.

An méid a chuir an bheirt eolaithe cumasacha den scoth le réimsí na réalteolaíochta, na grianghrafadóireachta agus an domhain nádúrtha, déantar é a cheiliúradh i gclár faisnéise nua darb ainm Ladies of Science, atá le craoladh in Uíbh Fhailí go speisialta le linn Sheachtain na hOidhreachta 2016. Insítear sa dráma faisnéise uair an chloig an chaoi ar thosaigh an bheirt bhan den scoth seo saol na heolaíochta agus na teicneolaíochta a athrú in Éirinn agus timpeall an domhain, agus iad neamhbhuartha faoi na róil dhochta inscne a bhíodh ann ag an am. Is inspéise an clár faisnéise é, a thabharfadh ábhar machnaimh duit, a d’oirfeadh thar barr do dhaoine a bhfuil féith na fiosrachta iontu, beag beann ar a n-aois.

Tá na léirithe, atá á n-eagrú ag Seirbhís Leabharlainne Uíbh Fhailí, saor in aisce ach ní mór áit a chur in áirithe.

Cén uair agus Cén áit: 24 Lúnasa, 3.30pm - 4:30pm, Leabharlann Bhiorra; 25 Lúnasa, 6.30pm - 7.30pm, Leabharlann an Fhéir Bháin

Faigh tuilleadh eolais ar an imeacht seo anseo, nó tabhair cuairt ar Seachtain Oidhreachta Uíbh Fhailí ar líne .
 

Stay up-to-date Fan ar an eolas


News Nuacht

Follow the latest news from the Ireland 2016 team including updates of events and programme updates.

Faigh an nuacht is déanaí ó fhoireann Éire 2016, imeachtaí nua agus athruithe ar an gclár ina measc.



Partners Comhpháirtithe

Stay up-to-date with our Partners and follow what’s on in your area, helping to commemorate Ireland 2016.

Fan ar an eolas maidir lenár gComhpháirtithe agus an méid a bheidh ar siúl i do cheantar féin chun Éire 2016 a chomóradh.