Alice Perry

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Alice Perry
Alice Perry 1885-1969.jpg
Born Alice Jacqueline Perry
(1885-10-24)24 October 1885
Wellpark House, Galway, Ireland
Died 21 April 1969(1969-04-21) (aged 83)
Nationality Irish
Education Royal University of Ireland, Galway
Occupation Engineer
Spouse(s) John Shaw
Parent(s) James Perry and Martha Perry
Engineering career
Discipline Civil

Alice Jacqueline Perry (24 October 1885 – 21 April 1969) was the first woman in Ireland to graduate with a degree in engineering.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Wellpark, Galway in 1885, Alice was one of five daughters of James and Martha Perry (née Park).[2] Her father was the County Surveyor in Galway West and co-founded the Galway Electric Light Company.[3] Her uncle, John Perry, was a Fellow of the Royal Society and invented the navigational gyroscope.[4]

After graduating from the High School in Galway, she won a scholarship to study in Royal University, Galway in 1902. Having excelled in mathematics, she changed from studying for a degree in arts to an engineering degree. She graduated with first class honours in 1906.[1][5] The family appear to have been academically gifted. Her sisters Molly and Nettie also went on to third level education; a third sister Agnes earned BA (1903) and MA (1905) in mathematics from Queen's College Galway (later UCG then NUIG), taught there in 1903–1904, was a Royal University of Ireland examiner in mathematics in 1906, and later became assistant headmistress at a secondary school in London.[6]


Following her graduation she was offered a senior postgraduate scholarship but owing to her father's death the following month, she did not take up this position.[2] In December 1906 she succeeded her father temporarily as county surveyor for Galway County Council.[2] She remained in this position for five[2] or six[1] months until a permanent appointment was made. She was an unsuccessful candidate for the permanent position and for a similar opportunity to be a surveyor in Galway East.[2] She remains the only woman to have been a County Surveyor (County Engineer) in Ireland.[1]

In 1908 she moved to London with her sisters, where she worked as a Lady Factory Inspector for the Home Office.[1] From there she moved to Glasgow, at which point she converted from Presbyterianism to Christian Science in 1915.[4] She met and married John (Bob) Shaw on 30 September 1916.[2] Shaw was a soldier who died in 1917 on the Western Front.[1][2]

Later life and death[edit]

Perry retired from her inspector's position in 1921[4] and became interested in poetry, first publishing in 1922.[1] In 1923 she moved to Boston, the headquarters of Christian Science.[4] Until her death in 1969, Perry worked within the Christian Science movement as a poetry editor and practitioner,[2] publishing seven books of poetry.[1]


Alice Perry building NUI galway

An All-Ireland medal has been named in her honour, The Alice Perry Medal, with the first prizes awarded in 2014.[7]

On Monday 6 March 2017, NUI Galway held an official ceremony to mark the naming of the Alice Perry Engineering Building.[8][9]


  • The children of Nazareth : and other poems (c1930)
  • The morning meal and other poems (1939)
  • Mary in the garden and other poems (1944)
  • One thing I know and other poems (c1953)
  • Women of Canaan and other poems (1961)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Engineers Ireland. "Alice Perry (1885–1969)". Engineers Ireland: Realised Vision. Engineers Ireland. Retrieved 8 February 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Irish Architectural Archive. "PERRY, ALICE JACQUELINE". Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720–1940. Irish Architectural Archive. Retrieved 8 February 2015. 
  3. ^ Irish Architectural Archive. "PERRY, JAMES". Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720–1940. Irish Architectural Archive. Retrieved 8 February 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c d O'Connell, Claire (2009). "First in Their Field". In Mulvihill, Mary. Lab Coats and Lace. Dublin: WITS. pp. 43–45. ISBN 978-0-9531953-1-2. 
  5. ^ NUI Galway. "Our history". NUI Galway. NUI Galway. Retrieved 8 February 2015. 
  6. ^ O'Sullivan, M. D.; O'Halloran, Joe (1999). "The Centenary of Galway College". Journal of the Galway Archaeological and Historical Society. 51: 24–42. 
  7. ^ NUI Galway. "Winners announced for the First All-Ireland Apps Competition". NUI Galway. NUI Galway. Retrieved 8 February 2015. 
  8. ^ "Series of Events to celebrate Naming of Alice Perry Engineering Building at NUI Galway". Retrieved 8 March 2017. 
  9. ^ "Engineers Ireland laments industry's 'stark' gender imbalance". The Irish Times. 6 March 2017. Retrieved 13 March 2017. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Ó hÓgartaigh, Margaret (2002). '"Am I a Lady or an Engineer?" Early Irish Female Engineers', Irish Engineers' Journal, December, pp. 48–49.

External links[edit]