Éire Ingenuity

Top 6 | by Chris Scott

The Irish aren’t just to be congratulated for the one day on the calendar you can legally get day drunk on a spiked Shamrock Shake. The Emerald Isle is also responsible for game changers that affect your everyday life. This St Pat’s Day, hoist a pint of Guinness to Irish innovation.

1 The Tattoo Machine

Do you have a tattoo? Thank an Irishman. In 1891 an immigrant named Samuel O’Reilly who owned a tattoo parlour in New York, patented the rotary tattoo machine in which needles moved up and down automatically. Prior to this, tattooing was done BY HAND with the artist moving his hand rhythmically up and down 2–3 times a second. Ow. Ow. Ow.

2 Flavoured Potato Chips

Before Joseph Murphy, potato chips came in one type: salted. Then the man behind Tayto, the northern Ireland crisps company, came up with three types — cheese and onion, barbecue, and salt and vinegar. Everyone copied him. The end.

3 Seismology

We get the Richter scale from American scientist and naturist Charles Richter, but that only quantifies earthquakes. Irish geophysicist Robert Mallet is the guy you want. In addition to writing pioneering papers that shaped our understanding, he coined the words “seismology” and “epicentre”.

4 The Submarine

John Phillip Holland (native of Clare) was an engineer who designed the first US Navy submarine, as well as the first Royal Navy submarine. He submitted his first design in 1875 and then spent years refitting it until the U.S. Navy was happy with it, in 1900.

5 The Portable Defibrillator

Professor Frank Pantridge, a doctor from Northern Ireland, completely changed modern medicine with his invention in the mid-1960s. It automatically diagnoses cardiac arrhythmias of ventricular fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia. In layman’s terms, it applies electrical therapy to make the heart re-establish an effective rhythm, and has saved countless lives.

6 Dracula

Bram Stoker (born in Clontarf, on the north side of Dublin) certainly didn’t invent Vlad II of Wallachia, nor did he invent the vampire. But he completely defined its modern form by combining them both in the genre defining novel in 1897. A business manager for the Lyceum Theater in London, Stoker spent seven years researching European folklore and stories of vampires. He was intrigued by the name “Dracul” taken by Vlad’s descendants, spun him into a blood-drinking count and the rest is cultural history.