16th October, 2019

Today at Broombridge Luas stop Minister Paschal Donohoe TD will unveil an artwork by tattoo artist Emma Ray that celebrates a 176 year old act of graffiti.

On 16 October 1843 Irish mathematician William Rowan Hamilton and his wife Helen were walking along the banks of the Royal Canal from Dunsink Observatory to the Royal Irish Academy where he was President.

At Broome Bridge Hamilton had that very rare occurrence in science a Eureka moment. He suddenly alighted on the solution to a problem he had been working on for a long time and in his excitement, he took out his penknife and scratched his formula for Quaternion algebra onto the bridge: i² = j² = k² = ijk = −1  Quaternions would later be instrumental in putting the first man on the moon and be used for CGI in movies.

In 2018 the Royal Irish Academy, Transport Infrastructure Ireland and the National Transport Authority decided to mark this important moment in world science by commissioning an artwork for the Luas stop at Broombridge through a competition open to students, staff and alumni of the nearby TU Dublin School of Creative Arts. Former DIT Fine Art student, Emma Ray, a tattoo artist based in Dundalk, Co Louth won the commission.   

“The artwork is the story of his walk on 16 October 1843 and how the answer came to him in a flash and probably when he least expected it.”

Peter Kennedy, President of the Royal Irish Academy said

“Dublin and especially Cabra should be proud of William Rowan Hamilton. We want this artwork to inspire the next generation. Dublin needs new Hamiltons.  

Minister Paschal Donohoe said

“We in Cabra have always had great pride in the story of William Rowan Hamilton’s Eureka moment. This stop is fondly referred to by locals as the “Luas Hamilton” so it is wonderful to launch this artwork by Emma Ray today.”


Further Information: 

Hamilton Walk – Each year on 16 October, the Maynooth University Department of Mathematics and Statistics commemorates the event by retracing Hamilton’s steps. The walk begins at Dunsink Observatory and heads south to meet the Royal Canal before going east along the canal to end up at Broombridge station in Cabra, where a plaque marks the area where Hamilton scratched his formula for the quaternions on the bridge.

Hamilton Day Lecture – Each year on 16 October the Royal Irish Academy invite an eminent speaker from the international mathematics community to Ireland to present a public lecture to celebrate Hamilton’s contribution to mathematics.  Our 2019 speaker is Professor Maria Chudnovsky from Princeton University. Her research interests are in graph theory and combinatorics and she was a winner of the prestigious Fulkerson prize in 2009.

Hamilton Did It Luas Campaign – The Royal Irish Academy collaborated with students from the School of Creative Arts, TU Dublin and with support from TII/Luas a poster campaign is currently running on Luas stops across the city to raise awareness of Hamilton.