Dunsink Lane, Castleknock, Dublin 15, D15 XR2R dunsink@dias.ie

Directors of Dunsink Observatory

Dunsink Observatory was founded in 1785 following a bequest from the Provost of Trinity College Dublin, Francis Andrews. Provost Andrews bequeathed £3,000 to establish a Professorship of Astronomy and to build an astronomical observatory. From 1792 until 1921, the Andrews Professor was the Royal Astronomer of Ireland, a title that was established by Letters Patent of King George III. According to the Statutes of the College, the Andrews Professor was required to “make regular observations of the heavenly bodies … and of the sun, moon and planets”. The holder of the Andrews Professorship was Director of Dunsink Observatory and lived and worked in Observatory House from 1785 until 1992.

Provost Andrews bequeathed £3,000 to establish a Professorship of Astronomy and to build an astronomical observatory.

Probably the most recognised scientist to hold the position was Sir William Rowan Hamilton who was appointed at the age of 21. His appointment was not without controversy as Hamilton paid little attention to his official “observational” duties, instead focussing on his research on more theoretical problems in physics, such as conical refraction, quaternions and mechanics.

Sir William Rowan Hamilton was Director of Dunsink Observatory and invented quaternions while walking along the banks of the Royal Canal.

The Andrews Professorship and Dunsink Observatory were abandoned by Trinity in 1921, but the Observatory was taken over by the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies in 1947. The Royal Astronomer title lapsed in 1966 when TCD adopted new statutes.

The Andrews Chair was re-established as an honorary chair associated with Dunsink in 1984. An excellent description of the history of the Andrews Professorship and Dunsink Observatory by Prof. P. A. Wayman can be found in The Irish Astronomical Journal.

Sir Robert Ball, 4th Royal Astronomer of Ireland. Portrait from Vanity Fair (1905).

Directors of Dunsink Observatory (1785-present)

1783-1790: Rev. Dr. Henry Ussher (1741–1790)
1st Andrews Professor of Astronomy

1790-1827: Rev. Dr. John Brinkley (1763–1835)
2nd Andrews Professor of Astronomy, 1st Royal Astronomer of Ireland

1827-1865: Sir William Rowan Hamilton (1805–1865)
3rd Andrews Professor of Astronomy, 2nd Royal Astronomer of Ireland

1865-1874: Dr. Franz Brünnow (1821–1891)
4th Andrews Professor of Astronomy, 3rd Royal Astronomer of Ireland

1874-1892: Sir Robert Ball (1840–1913)
5th Andrews Professor of Astronomy, 4th Royal Astronomer of Ireland

1892-1897: Dr. Arthur Alcock Rambaut (1859-923)
6th Andrews Professor of Astronomy, 5th Royal Astronomer of Ireland

1897-1906: Dr. Charles Jasper Joly (1864–1906)
7th Andrews Professor of Astronomy, 6th Royal Astronomer of Ireland

1906-1912: Sir Edmund Taylor Whittaker (1873–1956)
8th Andrews Professor of Astronomy, 7th Royal Astronomer of Ireland

1912–1921: Dr. Henry Crozier Plummer (1875–1946)
9th Andrews Professor of Astronomy, 8th Royal Astronomer of Ireland

1921–1936: Mr. Charles Martin
Acting Director

1936–1947: vacant/observatory closed

1947–1957: Dr. Hermann Alexander Brück (1905–2000)
Senior Professor, Head of DIAS Astronomy Section

1958–1963: Dr. Mervyn Archdall Ellison (1909–1963)
Senior Professor, Head of DIAS Astronomy Section

1964–1992: Dr. Patrick Arthur Wayman
Senior Professor, Head of DIAS Astronomy Section, 10th Andrews Professor of Astronomy (TCD; Honorary)

1994-2007: Dr. Evert Meurs
Senior Professor, Head of DIAS Astronomy Section, Adjunct Professor of Astronomy (TCD)

2007–2018: Dr. Luke Drury
Senior Professor, Head of DIAS Astronomy & Astrophysics Section, 11th Andrews Professor of Astronomy (TCD; Honorary)

2018-present: Dr. Peter T. Gallagher
Senior Professor, Head of DIAS Astronomy & Astrophysics Section, Adjunct Professor of Astrophysics (TCD)