Cole, Grenville Arthur James (1859–1924), geologist, was born 21 October 1859 in London, second son of John Jenkins Cole of London, architect to the London Stock Exchange. He was educated at City of London School and the Royal School of Mines, London, where he was demonstrator in geology 1878–90. Cole – who was subsequently head of geology, Bedford College for women, London (1886–90), professor of geology at the Royal College of Science, Dublin (1890–1924), and director of the geological survey of Ireland (1905–24) – was an accomplished petrologist and mineralogist whose earliest important work was on textures of igneous and metamorphic rocks of north Wales and Ireland. His research was wide-ranging and encompassed petrology, mineralogy, palaeontology, regional and offshore geology, structural geology, stratigraphy, and geography, and resulted in 515 papers (many of which were on Irish geology) and twelve books, the most valuable of which were Aids in practical geology (1890), which ran to seven editions; Open-air studies: an introduction to geology out-of-doors (1895); and Handbook of the geology of Ireland (1925), the latter coauthored with Timothy Hallissy. An excellent teacher and public speaker who valued the use of practical work and field studies in geological education, he was responsible for a number of geological texts for schools and popular reading: Ireland: the land and the landscape (1914) and Common stones (1921). Towards the end of his life he attempted to advance geography as a university subject. Although his directorship of the geological survey came at a time when resources were scarce, several important publications appeared, including maps of the geology around the urban centres, and his memoir on the location of mines and mineralogical deposits of economic importance (1922). In Dublin he lived at 3 Dartmouth Square (1896–1902), subsequently keeping two houses: 10 Winton Rd, Leeson Park (1902–20), and Orohova (later Glenheather), Carrickmines (1902–24). Cole was elected MRIA (1893) and FRS (1917); was president of the Dublin Naturalists' Field Club (1896–7), the Irish Geographical Society (1918–22), and the Geographical Association (Great Britain) (1919); and was awarded the Murchison medal of the Geological Society of London (1909) and a D.Sc. (h.c.) of QUB. He cycled as a pastime and undertook many long-distance tours on the continent, recalled in two books: The gypsy road: a journey from Krakow to Coblentz (1894) and As we ride (1902), the latter co-authored with his wife. He also published poetry and was a fine photographer. He was a man of great stamina and energy although he stood only just over five feet tall. Towards the end of his life he suffered from rheumatoid arthritis; he died 20 April 1924, aged 64, in Carrickmines, and is buried in Deans Grange cemetery, Dublin.
He married (1896) Blanche, daughter of J. E. Vernon of Clontarf Castle; they had one son, Vernon. His papers were dispersed after his death but some geological specimens remain in the geological museum, TCD.