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Preserving No. 5 Grenville Place

Our programme celebrates the bicentenary of the birth of George Boole. Learn more about the cooperation between University College Cork and Cork City Council to restore Boole's house at 5 Grenville Place.

Deep Roots for the George Boole Legacy at UCC

  • 1849 – Arriving from Lincoln, Boole begins teaching at UCC, then called Queen's College, Cork.
  • 1854  - Boole writes his masterwork at Grenville Place: An Investigation of the Laws of Thought 
  • 1964 – Members of the Royal Irish Academy assemble at UCC to celebrate the Boole centenial
  • 1982 – UCC Library acquires a collection of George Boole’s personal papers and artefacts 
  • 1985 – Professor of Mathematics Des MacHale publishes George Boole: His Life and Work
  • 2007 – An Alumni bequest generously supports the George Boole Digitisation Project.
  • 2008 – Special Collections proceed to develop the core of the Boole Papers online.
  • 2009 – Following the extension of the Boole Library,  Boole’s Examination Notebook, his personal annotated record of Mathematics Exams given to students in Cork is discovered amongst some uncatalogued collections. 

‌Nature, as Boole himself might have observed, sets its own course. In this case the lasting effects of the historic flooding in Cork during recent years highlighted the need to preserve Boole’s own lodgings at 5 Grenville Place. This was where he wrote his seminal work An Investigation of the Laws of Thought in 1854. But in 2009, as the winter floods swept down the River Lee along the Mardyke, Bachelor’s Quay was severely damaged at Grenville Place.‌ 

This proved to be the spark of a joint campaign to preserve the memory of George Boole in Cork. The international scientific community and local residents voiced their concerns about the state of Boole’s former office, then in private hands. The George Boole 200 programme at UCC has taken this interest a step further; now working in cooperation with the Cork City Council to redevelop and take ownership of the property we believe that Boole’s innovative legacy can inspire the next generation as we secure the fate of 5 Grenville Place – The George Boole House of Innovation.

The Campaign for 5 Grenville Place

  • November 2009 – The worst flooding in the 800 year history of Cork City yields extensive damage along the Mardyke, with quay repairs continuing throughout the city over a 2 year period.
  • October 21 2010 – Professor Eoin Lettice, a lecturer in plant science at the UCC School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, is the first to report an internal collapse at 5 Grenville Place. His blog Communciate Science becomes a platform for public conversation about this historic legacy which is in desperate need of restoration. Bloggers and the media continue to report on the incident, raising awareness of Boole’s life in Cork and planting the seeds for a public campaign in support of George Boole House.
  • November 6th 2010 – By sheer coincidence Lincoln Council holds the first ‘Boolefest’ at the University of Lincoln – with a schedule of talks and historical events dedicated to the memory of the famous mathematician, who was born and raised in Lincoln. 
  • Meanwhile, Professor Barry O’Sullivan, Head of the Department of Computer Science at UCC, circulates a petition among the international academic community ‘for the Urgent Repair and Restoration of George Boole’s house at 5, Grenville Place, Cork’. This petition goes on to gain over a thousand signatures in the space of a week, with over 1300 signatories in total!
  • March 2011 - Due to public safety concerns, the Council is able to intervene and secure the building from further collapse. Over €135,000 in public monies are made available for temporary structural supports at the property. Dangerous sections of the roof and internal floors are removed to make room for the erection of a steel frame, preventing further decay of the building facade.

Momentum Builds

  • May 2011 – Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II tours Ireland, and is gifted an exquisite lace ‘Boolean Scarf’ from UCC during her visit to the Tyndall Institute.
  • Autumn 2011 – Ongoing public works along the quays restore the walls at Bachelor’s Quay.
  • February 2012 – Negotiations between the private owners and Cork City Council yields success: the property at 5 Grenville Place is briefly listed on before passing into public hands.
  • June 2012 – The Boole Library at UCC receives an EMC Heritage Grant to support the ongoing Boole Papers Digitisation Project.
  • September 2012 – Furthermore, a Phd student in the Digitial Humanities at UCC begins to develop a transcription interface for the George Boole papers.
  • January 2013 –UCC President Michael Murphy announces plans for the Year of George Boole, to run from December 8 2014, the 150th anniversary of his death, culminating in a national bicentennial celebration on his birthday November 2, 2015.
  • November 2014 – Taoiseach Enda Kenny launches the George Boole 200 Programme of Events
  • December 2014 – UCC announces funding on the order of €600,000 to seed the George Boole Institute and restoration works at 5, Grenville Place. A group from UCC led by Professor Barry O’Sullivan, Head of the Department of Computer Science and who has been dedicated to the project for nearly five years, works in conjunction with the council to develop plans for the property.

Looking forward