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The Lecky Chair of History

The Lecky Chair of History at Trinity College Dublin was endowed in 1913 and has been held by a succession of distinguished medievalists. An assessment of the historical contribution of three of the holders of the chair is available here. The current holder of the Lecky Chair, Professor I.S. Robinson, retires in 2015.

Ian Robinson

Professor I. S. Robinson

Professor I. S. Robinson
Lecky Professor of History and Senior Fellow of Trinity College

Professor Robinson's research covers the fields of papal and imperial history, chronicle writing and the history of ideas in eleventh- and twelfth-century Europe.

James Lydon (d. 2013)

Professor James F. M. Lydon, M.A. (N.U.I., Dubl.), Ph.D. (Lond.), D.Litt. (h.c. N.U.I.), M.R.I.A., F.T.C.D. (1965), was a towering figure in the Department of History, Trinity College Dublin. Successor in the Lecky Chair of History to Edmund Curtis and Jocelyn Otway-Ruthven, he combined the best of both, exuding Curtis’s empathetic warmth for the human story of Ireland’s past while sharing the Otway-Ruthven’s fascination for Anglo-Irish institutional history.

James Lydon

Professor James F. M. Lydon, on receipt of Lecky chair, in the Trinity News

In his long and distinguished career, Professor Lydon produced a series of seminal works on the history of Ireland, including: The Lordship of Ireland in the Middle Ages (1972, 2003); Ireland in the later Middle Ages (1973); England and Ireland in the Later Middle Ages (ed., 1981); The English in Medieval Ireland (ed., 1984); and The Making of Ireland: From Ancient Times to the Present (1998). Professor Lydon’s colleagues and pupils presented him with a Festschrift to mark his retirement in 1993: Colony and frontier in medieval Ireland (1995).

Professor Lydon died on 25 June 2013 and his memorial service was held in the College chapel on 27 November 2013. The address delivered on that occasion by his colleague Professor Louis Cullen is accessible here. In October 2014 the inaugural series of James Lydon Lectures in Medieval History and Culture were delivered at Trinity by Professor John Gillingham.

With assistance from the Trinity Trust, the papers of James Lydon were prepared for deposit with the Manuscript and Archives Research Library in College in 2014.

Bibliography: Peter W. Asplin, ‘Bibliography of J.F. Lydon [to 1995]’ in Colony and frontier in medieval Ireland: essays presented to J.F. Lydon, pp xv–xx.

Further reading: Sheelagh Harbison, ‘James Lydon: an appreciation’ in Colony and frontier in medieval Ireland: essays presented to J.F. Lydon, pp xi–xiii; Irish Times, 15 June 1965; Irish Times, 24 Sept. 1998; Seán Duffy, ‘A real Irish historian’, History Ireland, 3:1 (1995), 11–14.

A.J. Otway-Ruthven

A.J. Otway-Ruthven

A.J. Otway-Ruthven (d. 1989)

Bibliography: P.W.A. Asplin, ‘The writings of Professor A.J. Otway-Ruthven to 1980’ in James Lydon (ed.), England and Ireland in the later Middle Ages.

Further reading: Salters Sterling, ‘In retrospect: Annette Jocelyn Otway-Ruthven’, Search, 24:1 (2001); Salters Sterling, ‘Professor Otway-Ruthven, FTCD: Lecky professor of history, 1951–81 [sic]’ in Susan M. Parkes (ed.), A danger to the men? A history of women in Trinity College, Dublin, 1904–2004 (Dublin, 2004); Dictionary of Irish Biography, s.n.

Edmund Curtis (d. 1943)

IEdmund Curtis

Edmund Curtis

Bibliography: T.W. Moody, ‘The writings of Edmund Curtis’, Irish Historical Studies, 3:12 (1943), 393–400.

Further reading: T.W. Moody, ‘Edmund Curtis (1881–1943)’, Hermathena, 63 (1944); James Lydon, ‘Historical revisit: Edmund Curtis, A history of medieval Ireland (1923, 1938)’, Irish Historical Studies, 31:124 (1999)


Last updated 10 September 2015 medieval.history@tcd.ie (Email).