Ciarán Mac an Bhaird—HiMEd Lecturer

Ciarán Mac an Bhaird—HiMEd Lecturer

Photograph of a man wearing a navy suit gesturing while delivering a talk.

Ciarán Mac an Bhaird grew up on a small farm in Co. Monaghan, close to the border with Northern Ireland. He completed his undergraduate degree in Nua-Ghaeilge (Irish) and Mathematics, and then his Masters and PhD in Mathematics at Maynooth University. He was appointed Manager, later Director, of the Mathematics Support Centre and Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Maynooth University in 2007. He has lectured the History of Mathematics module since 2014. He has received multiple local, national and international awards in recognition of his teaching and support of students. He was a founding committee member of the Irish Mathematics Learning Support Network; he is a Council member of the British Society for the History of Mathematics (BSHM) and Chair of the BSHM Neumann Prize Committee. Ciarán conducts research in algebraic number theory, mathematics education and the history of mathematics.   


Ciarán is flexible about the mathematical topics he would cover. He usually discusses potential topics in advance with the class teacher, as he likes to get students involved in his classes. Thus, Ciarán adjusts the topic covered depending on students' mathematical level and skills. 

To date Ciarán has given over 50 talks for students from ages approximately 10 to 19. In these talks he focusses on examples from the History of Mathematics and on getting students to do calculations, figure out patterns and make discoveries. Some examples that he has used include:

  • Images of the Narmer Macehead from Ancient Egypt, where students figure out how to count using the Egyptian Simple Grouping System and then can read the numbers represented on the Macehead. This can lead to discussions on the influence and use (or misuse) of number in communications and publicity. 
  • Various discussions around the Golden Ratio. For example, students could measure certain lengths in their bodies, e.g. total arm length, arm length from elbow etc., and then calculate various ratios. We could discuss the idea of a ‘Golden Person’ (ratios being the Golden Ratio) and move on to the Fibonacci sequence, and an exploration of ratios. For more advanced students, we can explore limits, look at the intersection of a pentagon’s diagonals, and solving quadratics. 
  • Explorations in Geometric Algebra. For example, students prove the Pythagorean Theorem using four identical right-angled triangles (algebraic geometry). Similarly, students can consider how to prove the 'algebraic identity' called the difference of two squares, and then consider how to use this to speed up multiplication of 'large' numbers.

The list provided is not exhaustive, and Ciarán is happy to discuss other potential topics with teachers. Get in touch on