Northern Ireland Inventions

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Northern Ireland has created some of the most interesting and important inventions in the history of the planet despite its tiny size geographically.

Invention: The Ejector seat

Invented by: Sir James Martin 

Sir James Martin of Crossgar, County Down, researched pilot escape systems for the Spitfire during World War Two and came up with the idea of using an explosive charge to forcibly eject the seated pilot when the aircraft is moving at a high speed. The initial static ejector seat test was performed in 1945, and the initial in-flight test was performed the following year. Because of this invention’s success, the Royal Air Force quickly accepted it as a required safety measure.

Invention: The Modern Tractor

Invented by: Harry Ferguson

The three-point linkage system, the backbone of the modern tractor, was created by Harry Ferguson of Growell, County Down. Tractors and ploughs were once two separate machines, which made them challenging and dangerous to manage. Ferguson connected the two and moved the plough portion with hydraulics, making farming safer and more efficient.

Invention: Portable Defibrillator

Invented by: Frank Pantridge 

The Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast employed Frank Pantridge, a cardiac consultant from Hillsborough, County Down. Pantridge developed the portable defibrillator in 1966 as a result of realising the necessity for quick treatment of cardiac patients. Since then, these tools have been employed in ambulances and at cardiac arrest sites, saving countless lives all over the world.

Invention: Electric tramway

Invented by: William and Anthony Traill

Construction of the Giant’s Causeway Tramway, which connected Bushmills and Portrush, in 1833 marked the creation of the first electric tramway in history by brothers from County Antrim, William and Anthony Traill. A second portion that linked Bushmills to the Giant’s Causeway was built four years later.

Invention: The Los Angeles Aqueduct

Invented by: William Mulholland

William Mulholland, a Belfast native, served in the Merchant Navy for four years before settling in California in 1877 at the age of 22. Mulholland, a self-taught engineer, created the 200-mile Los Angeles Aqueduct, which supplies water to the city. The structure, which took five years to complete and was completed in 1913, sparked the rise of LA’s economy and culture.

Invention: Penalty kick

Invented by: Willie McCrum

Willie McCrum, who came from Milford, Co. Armagh, played for his local team as a goalkeeper for Milford FC. He was also the son of a rich owner of a linen mill, allowed 62 goals in the first season of the Irish Football League.

McCrum, who detested goalmouth foul play, created the penalty kick to stop such unsportsmanlike conduct.

The “Death Penalty,” also known as the “Irishman’s Motion,” was first offered in 1890 at a meeting of the International Football Association Board and adopted the next year.