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Pius_d'Alton.md 5.0 KiB

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  1. Pius d\'Alton PhD, BA (1874-1949), distinguished Irish Mathematician,
  2. Author, Philosopher, Engineer and Diplomat has enjoyed quite a vogue
  3. amongst the members of the Redbrick community. Born just outside Tralee
  4. the young d\'Alton displayed a strong intellect and a quick mind and won
  5. a scholarship to attend University College in Dublin.
  6. Initially, d\'Alton intended pursuing a career in medicine, but due to a
  7. timetabling error found himself studying mathematics. Having secured his
  8. BA, his doctoral thesis on Semi-Finite Alegbras was regarded as being a
  9. rather radical work by the British mathematical establishment, but was
  10. published widely in Europe. It was as a result of this thesis, that in
  11. 1903 he began to correspond with a young Swiss patent clerk called
  12. Albert Einstein. They swopped details of their various works in progress
  13. leading d\'Alton to remark \'Your work is of a most interesting, and
  14. potentially influential nature\..... I have had the chance to examine
  15. your calculations but briefly, but suspect you\'ll find that E=mc\^3 or
  16. some such.\'
  17. Despite the controversy generated by his thesis and early publications,
  18. the authorities in University College recognised his talent and granted
  19. him tenure as a lecturer in mathematics. It was about this time also
  20. that d\'Alton began to occupy a place in literary Dublin. Contrary to
  21. the official version propounded by the Joycean establishment,
  22. contemporary diaries and letters reveal that Joyce actually spent the
  23. original Bloomsday in a drunken stupor on the floor of d\'Alton\'s
  24. Dublin apartment.
  25. It is for his [series of comic novels](/Desist "wikilink") based in the
  26. fictional \'St. Harleband\'s College\' that d\'Alton is chiefly
  27. remembered. Although in commercial they were a merely a marginal
  28. success, the exploits of such eccentrics as \'The Senior Wrangler\' and
  29. \'The Autocrat\' inspired a loyal following amongst University
  30. undergraduates, junior civil servants and the American community in
  31. Ireland. The first such book \'Within These Walls\' was published in
  32. 1907, and d\'Alton continued these chronicles right up to his death.
  33. Their publication was not without a degree of controversy as d\'Alton
  34. was inclined to include thinly veiled parodies of his academic and
  35. literary contemporaries in these books. This led to him being described,
  36. by Patrick Kavanagh in 1940, as a \'thundering guttersnipe.\'
  37. d\'Alton\'s name was also well-known amongst the \'steam-men\' of
  38. Ireland. His patented d\'Alton Regulating Valve was a fundemental
  39. component of steam train and traction engines since its invention in
  40. 1910. Indeed, for a period his name entered the language as the
  41. expression \'His d\'Alton needs tightening\' was used widely as a
  42. metaphor for mental instability.
  43. In the 1930\'s d\'Alton found favour with the deValera regime and was,
  44. for a brief period, sent to Nazi Germany on the personal instructions of
  45. the taoiseach. Whilst there, he met with Adolf Hitler. The meeting is
  46. described in the memoirs of a young German Lieutanent who served as part
  47. of Hitler\'s personal staff. \'The Fuhrer received a Herr Daltung
  48. \[sic\] of Ireland in his salon. Daltung amused the company with his
  49. witty converation for quite some time. One remark in particular, a
  50. suggestion that it might be possible to build a \'people\'s automobile\'
  51. which would be affordable to the average industrial worker caused much
  52. mirth. I note however that the Fuhrer did not join in the laughter.\'
  53. So highly did deValera regard d\'Alton that in 1936 he sent him a draft
  54. copy of Bunreacht na hÉireann for review. Appalled by its confessional
  55. nature, d\'Alton sarcastically scrawled \'DoChum Glóire Dé agus Onóra
  56. na hÉireann\' before returning the typescript to deValera. deValera
  57. failed to appreciate the irony and the postscript found its way into the
  58. final version.
  59. After the Emergency d\'Alton grew increasing dissatisfied with life in
  60. Ireland and in 1947 travelled to Cork where, accompanied by a band of
  61. followers he declared a \'Republic of Munster\' from the steps of City
  62. Hall. Due to an unfortunate printing error this proclamation became
  63. known as the \'Electricity Declaration.\' The printed copies began
  64. \'Munstermen and Munsterwomen, in the name of God and her dead
  65. generators from which she derives her power\...\'
  66. The \'insurrection\' was quickly quelled and d\'Alton was brought before
  67. Cork Circuit Court charged with a breach of the peace. His speech from
  68. the dock must go down as one of the most impassioned ever made.
  69. \'Vangard, hear my roar! I am the Legion of the Rearguard! By my
  70. principles I live and for them I shall die. Cower before me, ye heretics
  71. and traitors. Barbarians all! Feel my wrath and tremble!\' Overwhelmed
  72. by the force of d\'Alton\'s oratory the judge bound him to the peace for
  73. 4 years.
  74. After this incident, d\'Alton retired to a cottage in West Kerry where
  75. he passed the last two years of his life in writing and bee-keeping.
  76. \--Autocrat
  77. Origionally from the [Encyclopedia](/Encyclopedia "wikilink")
  78. [Category:Encyclopedia](/Category:Encyclopedia "wikilink")