Eric Cross

Academic / Mathematician / Author

Eric Cross
St. Thomas's Church Knappagh.
Author's Personal Photo
Headstone on grave at Knappagh.
Author's Personal Photo

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 numerous inventions also several Essays etc.


Eric Cross was born during 1905 in Newry, Co. Down.  His Father was a Member of the Diplomatic Service: his mother (nee Mulloy) was from Northern Ireland.  She Volunteered in South Africa as a Nurse during 1900.  Eric Cross was actually christened James; he grew up in Cheshire, England with one sister Sheila. [i]

His father was in the British diplomatic service & his mother (whom he once said had a very great influence on him) had gone to South Africa as a Volunteer Nurse during 1900. (Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, ‘Cork Independent’, 17th  November 2011‘In the Footsteps of St. Finbarre (Part 275) The Golden Landscape’) [ii]


Eric Cross initially studied Medicine at Manchester University then transferred to London where he studied Chemistry.  He eventually Graduated with a Chemistry Degree.[iii]

Research Chemist

Eric Cross spent fifteen years employed as a Research Chemist in London. (‘Eric Cross’ Kelly Sonia 2008) [iv]


He was employed as a Researcher for fifteen years for various Biochemical Companies. According to the Writer Benedict Kiely (d.2007) ‘Cross found himself working on methods of warfare for a large corporation and decided to become a writer instead. (Hourican Bridget; Dempsey, Pauric J.)  Extract from this link. [v]  


A Polymath Cross devised a way of giving Turf the durability of Coal: he formulated a new mineral – like substance that resembled Marble, called ‘Magnasto.’ [vi]

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 an Hand – Craft Project.  He invented all types of ingenious Puzzles. (‘Eric Cross’ Kelly Sonia) [vii]

Return to Ireland

Cross returned during 1939 to Co. Cork.  He had renewed his previous friendship with Fr. Tim Traynor.  He joined a group that comprised of Captain Sean Feehan who founded ‘The Mercier Press’ in Cork, Seamus Murphy a Stone Mason & sculptor Nancy Mc Carthy a fellow Chemist from Douglas in Cork.  Later Cross purchased a horse – drawn caravan then moved to Gougane Barra. (‘Eric Cross’ Kelly Sonia) [viii]

During 1936 he moved to Ireland which he knew well from holidays. He lived briefly in Dublin. He allegedly bought a horse & caravan that took six weeks to reach Gougane Barra, Co. Cork, where he settled in his caravan.  He used an hotel opposite St Finbarr’s Retreat for meals.  Thus he immersed himself in the life of the local community.  (Hourican Bridget; Dempsey, Pauric J.) [ix]

Cross returned to live in Ireland in 1936. He renewed an acquaintance with Fr. Tim Traynor (a curate in Sandycove Dublin)  Fr. Traynor also knew the Tailor in Gougane Barra. [x]

The Tailor

During 1939 Eric travelled to Cork.  He became part of a group that included Seamus Murphy, the Stone Mason and Sculptor, Nancy McCarthy, another Chemist from Douglas, Captain Seán Feehan, the (Founder of ‘The Mercier Press’) also Father Tim Traynor.  Gougane Barra was frequented by the Group: who were drawn to it by the famous couple Timothy & Ansty Buckley (known as the Tailor & Ansty). Later Eric Cross purchased a horse drawn caravan, then moved it to Gougane Barra in West Cork.  During an interview in 1976 Eric Cross recalled his first meeting with the Tailor in Gougane Barra. ‘I was in Cork City and I hired a bicycle and set off, it was a fine summer’s day and by the time I got as far as Gougane Barra it was getting dark.  I met the Tailor on the way.  He was sitting on the side of the road outside his cottage.  He asked me in for a heat of the tea.  Something drew me to him, the broadness of the man must have impressed me in some way.  It is very hard to put a word on it but I had a sort of feeling that I knew him.’  Cross’s publication was a result that he listened several nights to the Tailor’s stories. (Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, ‘Cork Independent’, 17 November 2011‘In the Footsteps of St. Finbarre (Part 275) The Golden Landscape’) [xi]

Controversial Book

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 9th December 1942 vol 27: (

Eric Cross defended this book in a letter to ‘The Irish Press’, published on 15th October 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.’ This book was adapted for the Stage by P. J. O’Connor during 1968. Conal Creedon stated that a Radio Adaption Broadcast for R.T.E. had a cast headed up by Niall Tobin.  This is now regarded as a classic; it has premiered in The Abbey Theatre & throughout the country. (‘Eric Cross’ Kelly Sonia) [xii]

Mayo Home

Eric Cross moved north to Mayo to Home – Tutor children in Cloona Lodge outside Westport during 1950.  He remained until his demise thus became 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, walked the family pet, gardened & erected walls.  He assisted in the ‘Crios’ Cottage Industry Weaving Projects.  He also repaired china, pottery & metal products.  He derived great enjoyment from conversations with visitors in later years when Cloona Health Centre was established. (‘Eric Cross’ Kelly Sonia) [xiii]


Following his Graduation he penned a Chemistry Textbook.  He devised then Published his ‘Map of Time’ 1968: that showed Ireland & World History from AD. 400.  The Map may be viewed at this link.

Due to his love of Chemistry, Mathematics also 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 & 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 publication was ‘Silence is Golden and Other Stories plus Essays’  during 1978. (‘Eric Cross’ Kelly Sonia) [xiv]

Radio Productions

Over two hundred Radio Talks were broadcast by Cross on R.T.E.’s ‘Sunday Miscellany.’ He contributed several short stories to the B.B.C. (‘Eric Cross’ Kelly Sonia) [xv]


Cross penned a further vast amount of essays but unfortunately these were unpublished at the time of his demise. (‘Eric Cross’ Kelly Sonia) [xvi]


Eris Cross’ demise occurred at Cloona Lodge when he was aged seventy – two during 1980.  He is buried within Knappagh Churchyard a few miles from Westport. (‘Eric Cross’ Kelly Sonia) [xvii]


Eric Cross’s Obituary during 2008 stated the ‘Eric Cross was regarded as an Historian, Inventor, Sculptor, Philosopher, Mathematician, Teacher also a Research Chemist.’ (‘Eric Cross’ Kelly Sonia) [xviii]

Sonia Kelly published an article detailing his life with the family in ‘The Cathair na Mart Historical Journal’ 2008. (‘Eric Cross’ Kelly Sonia) [xix]

Sonia Kelly also contributed to an YouTube video with Dr. Oliver Whyte Westport: (‘Eric Cross’ Kelly Sonia)

A Radio Script from 1976 was published within ‘The Clew Bay Historical  Journal’ Vol 26 during 2008 that depicted his encounter with the Stone Mason Seamus Murphy. (‘Eric Cross’ Kelly Sonia) [xx]

In ‘The Irish Press’ 6th September 1980 (page 5) Eric Cross’s  Obituary stated he was ‘historian, inventor, sculptor, philosopher, mathematician, teacher and research chemist.’ (Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, ‘Cork Independent’, 17 November 2011 ‘In the Footsteps of St. Finbarre (Part 275) The Golden Landscape’) [xxi]


This link states that: ‘His career as a chemical engineer spanned the invention of synthetic marble and the making of knitting needles from bicycle spokes.  He is known for a book of short stories’ :

The Irish Independent’ 29th August 1942 described Eric Cross as ‘a smallish, leanish young man, with blue eyes and a mop of fair wavy hair, invariably wearing flannels and a high-necked pullover underneath his sports jacket.’ [xxii]

In his introduction to the Reprint of ‘The Tailor & Ansty’ during 1964 Frank O’Connor noted that: ‘Tis a funny state of affairs when you think of it.  It is the Tailor himself speaking.  The book is nothing but the fun and the talk and the laughter, which has gone on for years around the fireside.’  [xxiii]

An article on Eric Cross is referenced at this site:

Publications that may be of interest:

 ‘Stitching Up the Tailor’ Lovett Gerard 2006 Siochain  (PDF). (Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 October 2006 / Retrieved 1 August 2006)

 ‘Ireland: culture & religion,’‘ The Pursuit of Sovereignty & the Impact of Partition, 1912 – 1949’ (Archived from the original on 21 August 2006 /  Retrieved 1 August 2006) [xxiv]

This link may be of interest:


[i]Cathair na Mart Historical Journal of the Westport Society’ 2008 No 26


[iii] Ibid

[iv]Cathair na Mart Historical Journal of the Westport Society’ 2008 No 26


[vi] Ibid

[vii]Cathair na Mart Historical Journal of the Westport Society’ 2008 No 26

[viii]   Ibid.



[xi] Ibid

[xii] Cathair na Mart Historical Journal of the Westport Society’ 2008 No 26

[xiii]  Ibid.

[xiv]  Ibid.

[xv]  Ibid.

[xvi]  Ibid.

[xvii]  Ibid.

[xviii] Ibid

[xix] Ibid

[xx]  Ibid.






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