How Ireland Has Innovated: The Top 10 Irish Inventions The World Now Can’t Do Without

Ireland has a long and incredibly rich cultural history with a unique sense of imagination and innovation. So it’s not exactly surprising that some of the coolest, strangest and altogether most brilliant inventions we take for granted today were courtesy of Irish pioneers. Here we take a look at just a few of them.

1. Guinness

A more obvious one perhaps but the longevity and popularity of Guinness has proudly made it Ireland’s most iconic and successful export. In fact it’s now brewed in 49 countries and sold in over 150.

Inventor Arthur Guinness started to brew Guinness in Leixlip, County Kildare, before later producing it at St. James’ Gate Brewery in 1759. All these years later, it’s still the best-selling alcoholic drink of all time boasting sales of well over $2.6 billion a year worldwide.

2. The modern tractor

Known as “The Mad Mechanic” Harry Ferguson patented the original Ferguson System tractor in 1926. Sturdy, reliable and well-built, the same basic design is still in use today.

A prolific inventor, Ferguson also created his own racing car, motorcycle and even a plane - becoming the first Irishman to fly - in 1909. The Massey Ferguson name is still going strong.

3. Colour photography

Irishman John Joly of County Offaly was a scientist who designed the meldometer to measure the melting points of minerals, as well as the steam calorimeter for measuring specific heats. He also created the photometer which measured light intensity, bringing about radiation use in cancer treatment.

One of his best known inventions however is colour photography. In 1894, he successfully found a way of producing colour photographs from a single plate, changing the photography world forever.

4. The cure for Leprosy

And thank goodness for this one! Irish scientist Vincent Barry actually discovered the cure for Leprosy by accident - he was in fact looking for a cure for Ireland’s high rates of tuberculosis. A fortunate mistake indeed which is said to have directly saved the lives of more than 15 million people.

5. The submarine

The trusty submarine was invented by John Philip Holland back in 1881, in County Clare. A totally alien concept until then, it was the first of its kind and was referred to as the “Fenian Ram”. By 1900 the US Navy had formally commissioned its production and the submarine has been a highly valued piece of military equipment ever since.

6. Trans-Atlantic calls

Irishman Lord Kelvin Thomson established the Atlantic Telegraph Cable in 1865 and was later knighted for his work. The cable reached from Newfoundland to Valentia in County Kerry.

Thomson was also extremely interested in how temperature and thermodynamics are measured, leading to the creation of “The Kelvin Scale”.

7. The army tank

Another key piece of military hardware, the world’s first armoured tank came from Blackrock, Dublin courtesy of Walter Gordon Wilson. Although modern tanks look rather different to the one he developed originally in 1911, the iconic shape remains the same to this day.

8. Ejector seats

The first person to design the helicopter is, interestingly, also the first person to invent the ejector seat. His name was Louis Brennan, born in 1852 in Castlebar.

Luckily, initial testing was performed on a dummy in 1945 by Sir James Martin, however, in 1946 Bernard Lynch became the first human to test Brennan’s ejector seat for real.

9. Guided missiles

Ireland is full of peace-loving people (honestly!) yet here we have another piece of military equipment - and again it’s Louis Brennan.

His design for a stealth torpedo was deployed originally as a coastal defensive mechanism, later being adapted as a standard safety device by the Royal Air force.

10. Equipment for distilling whiskey

An inventor from Dublin named Aeneas Coffey developed the world’s first heat-exchange device in 1830. It may not sound that exciting, but it’s essential in the distilling of a number of well-loved modern day drinks including whiskey.

How can innovative Irish businesses benefit from R&D Tax Credits?

R&D Tax Credits are a tax incentive set up by the Irish Revenue to encourage businesses to innovate. If money has been spent by a company on research and development work, these projects are likely to be eligible for this very popular R&D tax relief scheme. The credit is calculated at 25% of applicable expenditure and is used against the Corporation Tax a company must pay. If a business has offset previous and current years’ CT liabilities, it may claim a credit in instalments.

An organisation may be eligible for the R&D Tax Credit if:

  • It undergoes relevant R&D activities either in Ireland or elsewhere in the European Economic Area (EEA)
  • It pays Corporation Tax to the Revenue
  • The money spent on its R&D activities is not eligible for a tax deduction in any another country.

How to claim R&D Tax Credits

Businesses need to use the Revenue Online Service (ROS) to claim the credit on their CT return.

Companies must make sure that their R&D projects meet all the criteria before applying. The Research and Development Tax Credit manual offers detailed guidance on the activities that qualify as well as the types of expenditure eligible. It's also highly recommended that you use the services of an experience R&D tax relief specialist like Myriad Associates. We have years of experience in dealing solely with R&D Tax Credit claims so are best placed to advice you on your options and answer any questions about your application. Myriad is also the name behind Tax Cloud.

How can Tax Cloud help?

Designed for both businesses and accountants in the Republic of Ireland, Tax Cloud is an online portal that provides excellent value expert guidance through the R&D Tax Credits claims process. Not only is it very easy to use, it offers your company the very highest chance of being accepted.

Call us today on 0207 118 6045 or use our contact page and we’ll be pleased to help you in any way we can.

Barrie Dowsett, ACMA, GCMA
Author Barrie Dowsett, ACMA, GCMA CEO, Tax Cloud
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Barrie Dowsett Barrie Dowsett ACMA CGMA Chief Executive Officer
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