Annie Massy (1867-1931) World-renowned Mollusc Expert

It’s science week – A national celebration of all things science, technology, maths and engineering. Over the years Ireland has produced some extraordinary scientists and scientific achievements that have changed the world. And many of these great strides have come in the areas of maritime technologies and marine science.

In recognition of this important week we’re taking a look at some of Ireland’s most influential and inspiring marine scientists and inventors. Today, we’re celebrating Ireland’s world-renowned mollusc expert Annie Massy.

Annie Massy (1867-1931) Marine Scientist

Annie Massy was one of Ireland’s great female marine scientists of the late 19th and early 20th century and much like Maude Jane Delap, she was self-taught. She gained international recognition as an expert on molluscs and in particular cephalopods which includes fascinating creatures like cuttlefish, squid and octopus. Her global reputation for identification of marine species led to numerous specimens from around the world being sent to her to identify.

Annie Massy

Massy’s research subjects The Molluscs  returned by Terra Nova Antarctica Expedition

She grew up in Malahide, Dublin and was a very shy and reserved child. She liked to gather and identify molluscs she found on Velvet Strand, a sandy beach close to her home. Not much more is known about her early years and there are no known photos.

Massy made her first contribution to a scientific paper at 18, submitting to the Irish Naturalist journal, and from then on she became a regular contributor and produced many important papers.

Even during the troubles of 1916 Massy managed to keep her head down and produce three extremely important scientific papers. She was the first to provide an account on the molluscs collected on Robert Scott’s Terra Nova expedition and wrote many more important papers including one on cephalopoda collected on the Fisheries research vessel the Helga.

Massy also had a firm appreciation for bird life and was a founding member of the Irish Society for the Protection of Birds.

About the Author

Ann Robinson
Has a passion for coastal heritage and maritime history. Loves sharing the best of the Irish coast online. Contact me or follow me on Twitter @AnnRobinson22