William Rowan Hamilton – Irish mathematician and scientist

Ireland has produced many notable literary men and women over the centuries but fewer scientists. In recent years, there has however been an increasing awareness that there have been remarkable talents too in science, engineering and mathematics and one of the greatest was undoubtedly Hamilton whose work in mechanics and optics continues to have relevance today.

The excellent, A word a day, website recently featured the German Carl Friedrich Gauss and showed a stamp that had been issued for him by the German Post Office. That prompted me to find some Irish stamps featuring scientific men and since Hamilton has actually been commemorated twice by the Irish Post Office, once in 1943 and again – as shown here – in 2005 I thought he should take pride of place.


W R Hamilton stamp

Emil Haversack 1819-1888

Straying a little from Irish postal matters, today we acknowledge the contribution of Emil Haversack whose ingenious method for easing the burden of carrying things by strapping them to your back led to the hi-tech haversacks of today’s trekkers.

The Strasbourg-born postman spent his life in the French and later German postal service and the picture shows what might be construed as an early version of the haversack in use!



Haversack - early version