Honours and Last Days

Honours and Assessment

In addition to his Nobel Prize Walton’s contribution was recognized by many other honours including: Membership of the Royal Irish Academy (1936); The Hughes medal of the Royal society in 1938; Honorary Degrees from Queens University Belfast, The University of Ulster, Dublin City University; and an Honorary Fellowship from the Institute of Engineers of Ireland (1985).

On the 30th of November 1989, the Causeway Park in Dungarvan, Co. Waterford was re-dedicated the “Walton Causeway Park” in tribute to the Physicist.  Following the unveiling of a plaque by Walton himself a Civic Reception was held under the then Chairman Paddy Power.  Commenting on the honour Walton stated:

 “I feel most unworthy of this honour after living here only nine months.” (4)

He was then presented with a framed photograph of the house in which he had been born, which had been demolished many years previously.  In 2004 a plaque commemorating Walton was placed on the site of Epworth Cottage, Strandside South Dungarvan.  The family of Walton were present for the ceremony.  In 2002 a new facility on the Waterford Institute of Technology Campus was named the “ETS Walton Building.”
Upon his retirement Walton remained in Dublin for many years but following the death of his wife he moved to Belfast where his daughter then lived.  He enjoyed a further period of active retirement and finally died on the 25th of June 1995 in his 92nd year.

Death notice:
WALTON (Professor Ernest T.S.)
(S.F.T.C.D.) (Dartry, Dublin and
More recently, c/o his daughter
Marian Woods, 37 Deramore Park
South, Belfast BT9 5JY) on June 25
1995, in his 92nd year at Belfast City
Hospital, loving husband of the late
Freda (née Wilson) and dear father
Of Alan, Marian, Philip and Jean
(Clarke): sadly missed by the family
Circle.  The funeral service will be
Held on Wednesday next at 11 o’c in
The Centenary Methodist Church
(Christ Church), Leeson Park,
Dublin.  Family flowers only.
Donati0ons in lieu. If desired, to
Dublin Central Mission Nursing
Home Appeal c/o Rev. Desmond
Bain.  Social Aid Centre
Marlborough Place, Dublin 1.

( 4) Keith, Tom.  In living memory: people and events from Dungarvan of the 1900s.  Waterford: Tom Keith, 2002.  iv,179p. pg. 174

Assessment

In addition to his obvious contribution to nuclear physics the circuits designed by Walton are still in use in modern TV sets and his particle accelerator is an essential scientific research tool.  In an obituary published in the Irish Times on Monday June 26th 1995 Gerry Moriarty quoted Walton,

“In 1945 in conference on ‘Unlocking Atomic Energy’ in which he said that it was to be hoped that if an enlightened human race did not prevent the use of atomic discoveries in war, a frightened one would.”

Moriarty continued, explaining that following the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Walton suggested in an “RTE broadcast that the most probable use of the new discoveries in the future would be in large-scale production of power.”  On his retirement from Trinity “Professor Cocker of the department of chemistry said the course of history had been changed as a result of the physicist’s work.”
Some years ago, I was asked by a member of Dungarvan Town Council to explore the possibility of the production of an appropriate sculpture to commemorate this most famous son of Waterford and renowned Irish Sculptor, John Coll, produced a stunning model which I hope at some stage may be executed.

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