Academic / Mathematician / Author
This man was an excellent mathematician, chemist plus an academic. His legacy has been his creativity in wood carvings (based on the Greek concept of the Golden Mean), repairs to various objet d’art, inventions plus the penning of his many essays and works.
Born during 1905 in Newry, Co. Down, Eric Cross’s Father was a member of the diplomatic service his mother had the surname Mulloy from Northern Ireland. actually volunteered in South Africa as a nurse during 1900. Eric was actually christened James; he grew up in Cheshire, England with one sister, Sheila.
Eric Cross initially studied medicine at Manchester University then transferred to London where he studied chemistry. He eventually graduated with a degree in chemistry. He spent fifteen years employed as a research chemist in London.
While he was employed with ICI he invented the original OXO cube! In Cork, Ireland during the war years he invented a type of turf briquette. He produced bicycle spokes from knitting needles. He also mass produced leprechaun heads as a hand–craft project. He invented all types of ingenious puzzles.
Return to Ireland
Cross returned during 1939 to Co. Cork. He had renewed his previous friendship with Fr. Tim Traynor. He joined a group comprising of captain Sean Feehan who founded The Mercier Press in Cork, Seamus Murphy a stone mason and sculpture, Nancy Mc Carthy a fellow chemist from Douglas in Cork. Sometime later Cross purchased a horse–drawn caravan then moved to Gougane Barra.
While he lived at Gougane Barra during 1942, he published “The Tailor and Ansty” in the “Bell.” The book was banned by The Censorship Board under de Valera’s Government. This ban remained in place up to the 1960’s. Eric Cross recalled in an interview in 1976 his initial meeting with the tailor. Seanad Eireann held a debate on the controversy during 09 December 1942, vol 27, (http://historical-debates.oireachtas.ie/S/0027/19421209003.html)
Eric Cross defended this book in a letter to The Irish Press, published on October 15th 1942, (page 3) with this ”I wrote the book, The Tailor and Ansty about a man who has been my friend for many years. The Manuscript, before publication, was read by many other friends of the Tailor. When published it was received with gratitude by them and was reviewed historically by every Irish Paper without any exception or objection.” (1)
This book was adapted for the stage by P. J. O’Connor during 1968. Conal Creedon wrote a Radio Adaption broadcast for R.T.E. with a cast headed up by Niall Tobin. This is now regarded as a classic, it has premiered in the Abbey theatre plus throughout the country.
Eric Cross moved north to Mayo to home–tutor children in Cloona Lodge outside Westport during 1950. He stayed until his demise becoming an integral part of the family life of the Kelly’s. The daughters were fully home –schooled but the sons actually progressed to college where they excelled in his excellent tuition of mathematics. Cross adapted to rural life, walking the family pet, gardening, building walls. He assisted in the “Crios” cottage industry weaving projects. He also repaired china, pottery, plus metal products. He derived great enjoyment from conversing with visitors in later years when Cloona Health Centre was opened.
Due to his love of chemistry, mathematics, and philosophical opinions Cross penned “The Modern Advances to the Modalar Fly – Away Kit (MFLAK) to support Maritime Interdiction Operations.” He wrote “The Patriots; (a Canadian Historical play in Three Acts” during 1956. “Cross’s Map of Time” was written during 1965, (this edition portrayed at a glance the Irish History and Events of its Peoples against the relevant European timeline.) During 1981 he produced “The Late Operas of Antonio Vivaldi 1727 -1738.” Again the following year he produced in conjunction with Giorgio Pestrelli “The Age of Mozart and Beethoven.” Cross’s last published book was “Silence is Golden and Other Stories plus Essays” during 1978.
Over two hundred Radio Talks were broadcast by Cross on R.T.E.’s ‘Sunday Miscellany” plus he forwarded several short stories to the B.B.C.
Cross penned a further vast amount of essays but unfortunately these were unpublished at the time of his demise.
Eris Cross died at Cloona Lodge, aged seventy–two during 1980. He is buried within Knappagh Churchyard a few miles from Westport.
His obituary in 2008 stated the “Eric Cross was regarded as an Historian, Inventor, Sculptor, Philosopher, Mathematician, Teacher also a Research Chemist.”
Sonia Kelly published an article detailing his life with the family in The Cathair na Mart Journal 2008. She also contributed to an youtube video with Dr. Oliver Whyte at Westport
Following his death a Radio Script from 1976 was published in The Clew Bay Heritage Journal volume 26 during 2008 that depicted his encounter with the Stone Mason Seamus Murphy.
Sonia Kelly recalls Eric Cross ‘s time as Tutor to her children plus several interesting items of his time at her house in Westport in the Mayo News issue of 27th April 2021.
Kelly, Sonia, (2008) Eric Cross, Cathair na Mart Journal, Journal of the Westport Historical Society. Article, Journal No 26