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Irish innovations

Ireland maybe a tiny island more famous for Guinness and leprechauns than anything else, but the magical emerald isle has also produced more than its fair share of significant inventions and discoveries. Read on to discover the weird and wonderful world of Irish innovation.

Colour photography

The Dublin born John Joly is arguably the most productive of Irish inventors. His initial discoveries were involved in measuring heat. He invented a device to measure the melting points of minerals called the meldometer, the steam calorimeter to measure specific temperatures and also the photometer to measure light intensity. He even contributed to the use of radiation in cancer treatments. His most successful Irish invention has to be colour photography. He discovered a way to produce colour photos on one plate. This Irish discovery brought colour to the world and changed people’s perception forever.

The armoured tank

In 1911, Winston Churchill, who was home secretary at the time, commissioned the production of an armoured vehicle. Designed to withstand bullets and shrapnel, crossing trenches and breaking through the barricades of no-man’s land. Perhaps inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s drawings of an iron-plated gun tower or by H. G. Wells'1903 book 'the Ironclads', Major Walter Gordon Wilson designed a vehicle which would transform land warfare for years to come. Tanks today look quite different from his original prototypes, but the central principle of the battle buggy remains the same. The outcome of the subsequent World Wars may have been very different without this important Irish invention.


Ireland is ordinarily a very peaceful nation, so it comes as a surprise that they have such an affinity for producing warfare equipment! The next Irish invention we’re going to look at is the guided missile. Louis Brennan from County mayo created the steerable torpedo system originally to defend the coastline from invading ships. Brennan was a creative mechanical engineer and Irish inventor. He went on to create the world’s first gyroscopically balanced monorail and an early version of the helicopter. Unfortunately, his prototype crashed and burned, and he lost his funding in 1926.

The ejection seat

Rather worryingly the Irish inventor, Louis Brennan, who invented the helicopter also went on to produce an early prototype of the ejection seat. Eventually, it was County Down born engineer Sir James martin who built the first functional ejection seat. First, he used dummies to the device and in 1946, Bernard lynch became the first man to test out the Irish invention. The cockpit exploded, blowing the pilot out of the plane, allowing him to parachute to safety. The Royal air force approved the idea, installing ejector seats in all its aircraft as standard. The Martin-Baker aircraft company is still a leading producer of aircraft ejection seats and James Martin even featured on £100 banknotes until 2013.

The Binaural stethoscope

The stethoscope was invented initially in France in 1819, but Dr Arthur Leared from Wexford Ireland improved the design in 1851. His design connected two earpieces to the listening cylinder with two rubber tubes. This meant that the physician could hear inside the body in stereo for the first time, leading to greater understanding of the sounds connected with heart and digestion disorders. This Irish innovation is still one of the most utilised tools in modern medicine to this day.

The Syringe

A Dublin doctor called Francis Rynd performed the first subcutaneous injection in 1844 using a syringe he made himself. His patient, Margaret Cox, had been suffering from acute facial pain for years, and the morphine pills were giving her little relief. If only he could think of a system to deliver the medication directly to the affected area. He produced a narrow tube with a hollow needle so he could inject the morphine under her skin close to the supra-orbital nerve. Her pain disappeared almost instantly. After a further two injections along her gum jawline, her pain ceased permanently. No other Irish innovation has had a greater impact on human life; the syringe literally changed the face of medicine and saved hundreds of lives.

Induction coil

In 1836, an Irish priest and scientist from Darver in Ireland produced one of the most significant Irish innovations of all time. Father Nicholas Callan wrapped two long wires around the end of an electromagnet and connected one end to a battery. By interrupting the current, he could produce a magnified spark at the other end of the coil. What he had created was the first primitive induction transformer or the induction coil. It was widely used in x-ray machines and other medical equipment and today is still used in internal combustion engines in their ignition systems.

Irish Innovation – Mundialz

The pace of Irish innovation has not slowed down in recent times, and Ireland continues to create Irish inventions which earn their place on the global stage. Who wouldn’t want to work in a country who contributed so much innovation to the human race? At Mundialz, we don’t believe in letting borders hold you back in your career. Let us broaden your horizons and find your perfect job working in Ireland.

Be part of Irish innovation and browse jobs in Ireland today.

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