F. S. L. Lyons

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Francis Stewart Leland Lyons (1923–1983) was a historian of nineteenth-century Ireland.


Lyons was born in Derry, Northern Ireland, in 1923, but soon moved to Boyle in County Roscommon where his father was a bank official. Educated locally, he won a scholarship to Tunbridge Wells and later attended The High School and Trinity College in Dublin.[1]

He was a lecturer in history at Hull University and at Trinity College, Dublin, before becoming the founding Professor of Modern History at Kent University in 1964,[1][2] serving also as Master of Eliot College from 1969 to 1972.[3]

Lyons became Provost of Trinity College, Dublin, in 1974, but relinquished the post in 1981 to concentrate on writing. His work Charles Stewart Parnell won the Heinemann Prize in 1978. He won the Christopher Ewart-Biggs Memorial Prize and the Wolfson Literary Prize for History for his book Culture and Anarchy in Ireland, 1890-1939, published in 1979. He was awarded honorary doctorates by five universities and was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and of the British Academy and was Visiting Professor at Princeton University.[1] His principal works also include Ireland Since the Famine, the standard university textbook for Irish history from the mid-19th to late-20th century, and a biography of Charles Stewart Parnell.

Lyons was critical of Cecil Woodham-Smith's much-acclaimed history of the Great Irish Famine and has generally being considered among the 'revisionist' historians whose political sympathies underplayed the negative role of the British state in events like the Famine.[4]

Lyons died in Dublin, in September 1983.

Select bibliography[edit]

  • The Irish Parliamentary Party, 1890-1910 (1951)
  • The Fall of Parnell 1890-91 (1960)
  • John Dillon: A Biography (1968)
  • Ireland Since the Famine (1971)
  • Charles Stewart Parnell (1977)
  • Culture and Anarchy in Ireland, 1890-1939 (1979) - won the Christopher Ewart-Biggs Memorial Prize


  1. ^ a b c Ulster History Circle. "Lyons, Francis Stewart Leland 1923-1983". Dictionary of Ulster Biography. Retrieved 2007-08-09. 
  2. ^ Townshend, Charles. "Lyons, (Francis Stewart) Leland (1923–1983)", revised, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004
  3. ^ Martin, Graham. From Vision to Reality: the Making of the University of Kent at Canterbury, University of Kent at Canterbury, 1990, page 259, ISBN 0-904938-03-4
  4. ^ James S. Donnelly Jr, The Great Famine and its interpreters, old and new (History Ireland, autumn 1993)
Academic offices
Preceded by
Albert Joseph McConnell
Provost of Trinity College, Dublin
Succeeded by
William Arthur Watts