F. S. L. Lyons
40th Provost of Trinity College Dublin
In office
1 August 1974 – 1 August 1981
Preceded byAlbert Joseph McConnell
Succeeded byWilliam Arthur Watts
Personal details
Francis Stewart Leland Lyons

(1923-11-11)11 November 1923
Derry, Northern Ireland
Died21 September 1983(1983-09-21) (aged 59)
Dublin, Ireland
Resting placeTrinity College Dublin
SpouseJennifer McAlister Lyons (m. 1964; d. 1983)
EducationDover College, Kent
The High School, Dublin
Alma materTrinity College Dublin

Francis Stewart Leland Lyons FBA (11 November 1923 – 21 September 1983) was an Irish historian and academic who served as the 40th Provost of Trinity College Dublin from 1974 to 1981.[1]

Plaque marking Lyons' burial site at Trinity College Dublin


Known as Le among his friends and family, Lyons was born in Derry, Northern Ireland, in 1923, where his father was a bank official. He was born into an Irish Protestant family of Presbyterian and Church of Ireland background. After his birth, his family soon moved to Boyle, County Roscommon, Ireland. He was educated at Dover College in Kent and later attended The High School, Dublin.[1] At Trinity College Dublin, he was elected a Scholar in Modern History and Political Science in 1943.[2]

He was a lecturer in history at the University of Hull and then at Trinity College Dublin. He became the founding Professor of Modern History at the University of Kent in 1964,[2][3] serving also as Master of Eliot College from 1969 to 1972.[4]

Lyons became Provost of Trinity College Dublin in 1974, but, relinquished the post in 1981 to concentrate on writing. He won the Heinemann Prize in 1978 for his work in Charles Stewart Parnell. He wrote Culture and Anarchy in Ireland, 1890–1939 which won the Christopher Ewart-Biggs Memorial Prize and the Wolfson Literary Prize for History in 1979. Lyons was also awarded honorary doctorates by five universities, and had fellowships at the Royal Society of Literature and the British Academy. He was Visiting Professor at Princeton University.[2]

His principal works include Ireland Since the Famine, the standard university textbook for Irish history from the mid-19th to late-20th century, which The Times called "the definitive work of modern Irish history" and a biography of Charles Stewart Parnell.[1]

Lyons was critical of Cecil Woodham-Smith's much-acclaimed history of the Great Irish Famine and has generally been considered among the "revisionist" historians whose political sympathies underplayed the negative role of the British state in events like the Famine.[5]

Lyons married his wife Jennifer McAlister Lyons in 1964, and had two sons. Following a short illness, Lyons died in Dublin in 1983, just shy of his 60th birthday.[1]


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  1. ^ a b c d "Professor F. S. L. Lyons – Perceptive Irish Historian". The Times. 24 September 1983. p. 10.
  2. ^ a b c Ulster History Circle. "Lyons, Francis Stewart Leland 1923-1983". Dictionary of Ulster Biography. Archived from the original on 9 December 2007. Retrieved 9 August 2007.
  3. ^ Townshend, Charles. "Lyons, (Francis Stewart) Leland (1923–1983)", revised, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004
  4. ^ Martin, Graham. From Vision to Reality: the Making of the University of Kent at Canterbury, University of Kent at Canterbury, 1990, pg. 259; ISBN 0-904938-03-4
  5. ^ James S. Donnelly Jr, The Great Famine and its interpreters, old and new Archived 2 April 2015 at the Wayback Machine, historyireland.com; accessed 12 February 2016.
Academic offices Preceded byAlbert Joseph McConnell Provost of Trinity College Dublin 1974–1981 Succeeded byWilliam Arthur Watts