John Philip Holland

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John Philip Holland (Irish: Seán Pilib Ó hUallacháin / Ó Maolchalann) (29 February 1840 – 2 August 1914[1]) was an Irish engineer who developed the first submarine to be formally commissioned by the U.S. Navy, and the first ever Royal Navy submarine, the Holland 1.



Early life

He was one of four brothers who may have been born in Liscannor, County Clare, Ireland[2] to an Irish speaking mother, Máire Ní Scannláin, and John Holland, and learned English properly only when he attended the local English-speaking National School system and, from 1858, in the Christian Brothers in Ennistymon.[3] Holland joined the Irish Christian Brothers in Limerick and taught in Limerick and many other centers in the country including North Monastery CBS in Cork City. Due to ill health, he left the Christian Brothers in 1873.[4]

Development of submarine designs

Holland emigrated to the United States in 1873. Initially working for an engineering firm, he returned to teaching again for a further six years in St. John’s Catholic School in Paterson, New Jersey. In 1875, his first submarine designs were submitted for consideration by the United States Navy, but turned down as unworkable. The Fenians, however, continued to fund Holland's research and development expenses at a level that allowed him to resign from his teaching post. In 1881, Fenian Ram was launched, but soon after, Holland and the Fenians parted company angrily, primarily due to issues of payment within the Fenian organization, and between the Fenians and Holland.[5] The submarine is now preserved at Paterson Museum, New Jersey.

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