Alice Perry

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Alice Perry
Alice Perry 1885-1969.jpg
Alice Jacqueline Perry

(1885-10-24)24 October 1885
Wellpark House, Galway, Ireland
Died21 April 1969(1969-04-21) (aged 83)
EducationRoyal University of Ireland, Galway
Spouse(s)John Shaw
Parent(s)James Perry and Martha Perry
Engineering career

Alice Jacqueline Perry (24 October 1885 – 21 April 1969) was a poet and 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 (ed.). 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]