24TH MAY, 2022

How Ireland has innovated: Top 10 Irish inventions the world 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, weirdest and most wonderful inventions we take for granted today were courtesy of Irish pioneers.

Here we dive back in time to take a look at just some of them (because hey, why not?!)

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 very glad we are too! 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. Transatlantic 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 in 1848.

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?

The R&D Tax Credits scheme is a tax incentive set up by Revenue to encourage businesses to innovate. If money has been spent by a company on eligible research and development work, access to R&D Tax Credits is likely to follow.

The credit is calculated at 25% of applicable expenditure and is offered in addition to the standard discount rate of 12.5%. So in effect, as much as 37.5% of eligible R&D expenditure is refundable against the company’s Corporation Tax liability. If a business has offset previous and current years’ CT liabilities, it may claim the credit in instalments instead.

Your company may be eligible for R&D Tax Credits if:

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

How do companies in Ireland claim R&D Tax Credits?

The Research and Development Tax Credit manual offers detailed guidance on the activities that qualify as well as the types of expenditure eligible and how to apply. But one thing we really need to point out here: Don’t be tempted to go it alone.

The R&D Tax Credits scheme is notoriously complex. Applying the criteria rigorously to your own unique R&D project is far from straightforward and it’s incredibly easy to over or under claim. Not only can this mean potentially leaving cash on the table, but any inaccuracies can soon bring about unwanted attention from Revenue.

Many companies therefore use the services of an online claims portal like Tax Cloud. Particularly ideal for smaller companies and those whose R&D projects are relatively straight forward, it’s a fully guided way of creating, submitting (and maximising) your R&D Tax Credit claim.

Find out more about why using a self-service R&D portal makes sense and how it can easily benefit your company to the tune of tens of thousands of euros.

Try the Tax Cloud demo today

Why not give the free demo a go and find out more about how the Tax Cloud portal makes claiming R&D Tax Credits easy. You’re also welcome to call our team on 0207 118 6045 or use our contact page if you’d like further advice about any aspect of R&D Tax Credits or the Tax Cloud portal for businesses.
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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