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Mayor unveils blue plaque in honour of iconic Strabane woman

21 May 2018

The Mayor of Derry and Strabane, Councillor Maolíosa McHugh, today unveiled a special plaque in honour of one of Tyrone’s most ground breaking female icons, astronomer and mathematician Annie Russell Maunder.

The Mayor was joined by Dorrie Giles, the great granddaughter of Walter Maunder, who flew specially from England for the unveiling.

The Ulster History Circle, with support for Derry City and Strabane District Council, installed the blue plaque in memory of the Strabane woman, in the year marking her 150th birthday. The permanent tribute to her pioneering work can now be viewed at Patrick Street, and people gathered today to hear more about her remarkable life.

Annie was born in Strabane where her father was the minister of the local Presbyterian Church up until 1882. Despite the limitations at the time on education for women, Annie excelled in her work in solar observation, and her research, which she carried out alongside her husband Walter, eventually secured her a place in the male dominated Royal Astronomical Society.

A crater of the moon has been named in honour of the Maunders and their work, and Annie eventually died aged 79, in Wandsworth London, in 1947.

Dr Myrtle Hill, Vice Chair of the Ulster History Circle thanked Council for supporting the initiative. “We welcome the opportunity to honour this Strabane woman’s major contributions to the Science of Astronomy, and although a Fellow of the Royal Society of Astronomy, she has nonetheless been forgotten by Science and had until recent years slipped from our history. 

“Thanks are due to Derry City and Strabane District Council for funding this latest plaque in the Circle’s five-year partnership with the Council.”