Ball, Mary (1812–98), entomologist and conchologist, was born in Cobh, Co. Cork, on 15 February 1812, the younger of the two daughters of Robert Stawell Ball and his wife, Mary (née Green). Along with her siblings Robert Ball (qv) and Ann, she moved to Youghal in 1815. The family was noted for its interest in natural history; Mary specialised in the collecting of invertebrates and shells. She was an acquaintance of A. H. Haliday, one of the foremost nineteenth-century entomologists, as well as of Baron de Selys-Longchamps, a noted authority on dragonflies, who studied her collection. Mary Ball was the first to record stridulation (the production of a shrill sound by the rubbing together of legs or wing cases) in corixid water bugs; her observations were published in 1845–6 by her brother. William Thompson (qv) and Professor William Harvey respectively named a mollusc and a seaweed after her. She lived in Dublin (1837–98), first in Eccles Street and later in Belmont Avenue, where she died 17 July 1898.
R. Desmond and W. T. Stearn, Dictionary of British and Irish botanists and horticulturists including plant collectors and botanical artists (1977), 39; Helen Ross, ‘Mary Ball’, in Charles Mollan, William Davis and Brendan Finucane (ed), Some people and places in Irish science and technology (1985), 44–5; Kit Ó Céirín and Cyril Ó Céirín, Women of Ireland: a biographical dictionary (1996)