Alfred O'Rahilly (1884-1969) was from Kerry and originally Alfred J Rahilly, changing his name post-1916. He attended Blackrock College and won a scholarship in Mathematics and gold medals in modern languages. He attended UCD where he studied Bsc / MSc in Mathematical & Experimental Physics. In 1907 he graduated in the old Royal University and subsequently obtained a MA. Afterwards he spent some time in the Jesuit novitiate, at Stonyhurst, where he received a D.Phil. In 1914 he started as an Assistant lecturer of Mathematics in UCC. In 1916 he became Professor of Mathematical Physica and in 1920 he became Registrar.
During World War I he had Sinn Féin sympathies. There was a swift transformation of life post-1916 in UCC & O'Rahilly played an active & influential part. He gained a nationwide repute as an authority on political and social matters. Within UCC over the next 23 years he reorganised the college library, was a member of the College Governing Body and of the University Senate, a constitutional advisor to the Irish delegation at the Treaty negotiations in London in 1922, a member of the Constitution Committee in 1922, a member of the Senate Commission and a representative at the International Labour Conference in Geneva and a member for Cork City in Dáil Éireann. As registrar he founded Cork University Press and as President he founded the Adult Education Courses (1946) which were pioneering in the field. His last project as President was the construction of the Electrical Engineering Building. He continued to publish various articles and books on diverse topics as evidenced in the collection. He retired from UCC in 1954. His wife had died in 1952 and in 1955 O'Rahilly was ordained by the Archbishop of Dublin and he lived in Blackrock College as a secular priest.
He was friends with Tomás Mac Curtain and Terence MacSwiney. Indeed MacCurtain's last public act was proposing O'Rahilly as Registrar. O'Rahilly was interned for six months in 1920-1921. He was elected as TD for Cork City in 1924 but resigned from Dáil Éireann.