William Henry Harvey Plaque

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William Henry Harvey

William Henry Harvey[1] was born on the 5th of February, 1811 and died at the age of fifty-five in Torquay, England. He was the youngest out of eleven children in the Harvey household. His father, Joseph Massey Harvey was a member of the Religious Society of Friends also known as Quackers.Harvey started his education at the Ballitore School in County Kildare and soon discovered his great interest in algae. His first discovery of the moss species at Killarney, which was not discovered in Ireland before, called Hookeria laetevirens, attracted the attention of an English botanist, Sir William Hooker.

William Henry Harvey in 1852.
Harvey was apprenticed to the family business however found no interest in developing his skills towards that profession. After the deaths of his parents (1834), Harvey was able to travel more freely to discover and engage with his study of botany.Harvey travelled around the world, visiting South Africa, Ceylon, Australia, New Zealand, Tonga, Fiji, and Chile on his three year voyage (1853) in order to research new findings for his next publishing.[2]

In 1848, he was elected the Professor of Botany of the R.D.S and made the Professor of Botany in T.C.D[3] in 1857. Despite his illness, Harvey kept publishing his work and exploration of botany. In 1861 he married Miss Phelps of Limerick however died of tuberculosis on 15 May 1866 in Torquay, England.

Green Plaque

The William Henry Harvey plaque is in Mary Immaculate College on South Circular Road in Limerick. The plaque can be found on the entrance of Summerville House and is part of the green plaque scheme.
William Henry Harvey Plaque.
The green plaque scheme was initiated by the Wandsworth Council in 2007/8. It was started to commemorate famous people or places which were not covered by the English heritage Blue plaque. This concept was developed by marking places of general interest so that it includes buildings and sites of local historical importance as well as individuals. This was done to create deeper pride in local areas and to widen residents' knowledge of the area in which they live. Two themes are taken into consideration when being selected for plaques which include:
  • Residences of past notable resident
  • Sites of particular local historical importance

Summerville House

Summerville House which is currently under construction.

Summerville House was built by William Henry Harvey's father, Joseph Massy Harvey in 1786. Harvey was a Cork man who came to Limerick as an assistant in the Fisher Flour Mills on Frances Street. It was a thriving granary company at the time. When Harvey eventually married Miss Fisher he took over the company and the success of the business allowed him to build his home now situated on the Mary Immaculate College grounds.[4] . The nineteenth-century suburban villa was converted to convent use towards the end of the nineteenth-century. Today, Summerville House has been refurbished to be Mary Immaculate College's dedicated postgraduate research facility. It has been equipped with a computer room, reading room and printing and copying facilities. [5] It remains relatively intact although it is currently under construction. Some notable features of the building include the sole surviving rendered chimneystack of the original building, the large hall with fine anaglypta frieze and ceiling panelling with decorative plasterwork cornice, the fine polished limestone chimneypiece and the double-leaf diamond panelled timber doors. [6].

The Plaque Opening Ceremony

The ceremony was opened by Professor Michael A Hayes, President of Mary Immaculate College (MIC). Mr Vukile Mdlalo, Chargé d’Affaires with the South African Embassy, unveiled the plaque, at Summerset House on Mary Immaculate College campus, on the 20th May 2014. [7] The event was jointly hosted by the Geography and History Department at MIC. The opening ceremony was followed by a lecture on William Henry Harvey by Professor John Parnell, Trinity College Dublin, entitled: ‘W.H. Harvey: his life in science & the Trinity College Dublin herbarium’. Dr Sarah McNamara, a former MIC PhD Student, also delivered a short lecture about Harvey and the Quakers in Limerick after the unveiling. The project was supported by the Research Office, MIC.


  1. Sophie C.Ducker (2011) , 'Harvey, William Henry (1811–1866)', Trinity College Dublin (online), http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/harvey-william-henry-3732/text5867, accessed 16 Oct 2014.
  2. Harvey, William H. (William Henry), Hooker, Joseph Dalton, Sir, 'The genera of South African plants : arranged according to the natural system(1868),London : Longman, Green, Reader, & Dyer, accessed 16 Oct 2014.
  3. Trinity College Dublin 'William Harvey - Chairs of Botany'(2011)(online)https://www.tcd.ie/Botany/tercentenary/300-years/chairs/william-harvey.php, accessed 16 Oct 2014.
  4. Summerville House- Harvey’s Connection, Limerick Chronicle, Published 5th Nov. 1991 accessed 20 Oct 2014
  5. Mary Immaculate College, Research Postgraduate Facilities in Summerville, accessed 22 Oct 2014
  6. Sisters of Mercy Convent, Summerville Avenue, Limerick, Limerick City: Buildings of Ireland: National Inventory of Architectural Heritage, accessed 20 Oct 2014
  7. Mary Immaculate College, Plaque Unveiled to World Renowned 19th Century Botanist, William Henry Harvey, accessed 28 Oct 2014
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