Trinity College Dublin

Skip to main content.

Top Level TCD Links

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 is Professor Ruth Mazzo Karras.

Ruth Karras Professor Ruth Mazzo Karras

Professor Ruth Mazzo Karras
Lecky Professor of History

Professor Ruth Karras was appointed Lecky Professor of History in 2018. Before coming to Trinity she taught at the University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, and the University of Minnesota, where she was named Distinguished Teaching Professor for her work in teaching postgraduates. She is a scholar of medieval women, gender and sexuality and she works in the intersection of social and cultural history; legal history; and the history of women, gender, and sexuality. Her publications having dealt with slavery, prostitution, masculinity and quasi-marital unions. She has been active in the profession internationally both in the field of women's and gender history and the field of medieval studies. 


Ian Robinson

Professor I. S. Robinson

I. S. Robinson
(retired 2015; now Fellow Emeritus)

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. He has published widely in these areas of study, and has edited the following texts: The Annals of Lampert of Hersfeld (Manchester University Press, 2015); Eleventh-Century Germany: The Swabian Chronicles (Manchester University Press, 2008); The Papal Reform of the Eleventh Century: Lives of Pope Leo IX and Pope Gregory VII (Manchester University Press, 2004); and Die Chroniken Bertholds von Reichenau und Bernolds von Konstanz 1054-1100 (Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores rerum Germanicarum, nova series 14, 2003). His monographs include Henry IV of Germany, 1056-1106 (Cambridge University Press, 1999); and The Papacy 1073-1198: Continuity and Innovation (Cambridge University Press, 1990).

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 19 March 2021 (Email).