Lord Lieutenant of Ireland

Last updated

Lord Lieutenant of Ireland
Flag of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.svg
Standard of the Lord Lieutenant
Style The Right Honourable
as a member of the Privy Council
Residence Dublin Castle
Appointer Lord of Ireland
Monarch of Ireland
Monarch of the United Kingdom
Term length At the Sovereign's pleasure
Final holder The Viscount FitzAlan of Derwent
Abolished6 December 1922
Succession Governor of Northern Ireland and Governor-General of the Irish Free State

Lord Lieutenant of Ireland ( UK: /lɛfˈtɛnənt/ ; Irish : Tiarna Leifteanant na hÉireann [1] ) was the title of the chief governor of Ireland from the Williamite Wars of 1690 until the Partition of Ireland in 1922. This spanned the Kingdom of Ireland (1541–1800) and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (1801–1922). The office, under its various names, was often more generally known as the viceroy (Irish : an Leasrí [2] ), and his wife was known as the vicereine. The government of Ireland in practice was usually in the hands of the Lord Deputy up to the 17th century, and later of the Chief Secretary for Ireland. Although in the Middle Ages some Lords Deputy were Irish noblemen, only men from Great Britain, usually peers, were appointed to the office of Lord Lieutenant.

British English is the standard dialect of English language as spoken and written in the United Kingdom. Variations exist in formal, written English in the United Kingdom. For example, the adjective wee is almost exclusively used in parts of Scotland and Ireland, and occasionally Yorkshire, whereas little is predominant elsewhere. Nevertheless, there is a meaningful degree of uniformity in written English within the United Kingdom, and this could be described by the term British English. The forms of spoken English, however, vary considerably more than in most other areas of the world where English is spoken, so a uniform concept of British English is more difficult to apply to the spoken language. According to Tom McArthur in the Oxford Guide to World English, British English shares "all the ambiguities and tensions in the word 'British' and as a result can be used and interpreted in two ways, more broadly or more narrowly, within a range of blurring and ambiguity".

Irish language Gaelic language spoken in Ireland and by Irish people

Irish is a Goidelic language of the Celtic and Indo-European language family, originating in Ireland and historically spoken by the Irish people. Irish is spoken as a first language in substantial areas of counties Galway, Kerry, Cork and Donegal, smaller areas of Waterford, Mayo and Meath, and a few other locations, and as a second language by a larger group of non-habitual speakers across the country. A speaker of the Irish language is known as a Gaeilgeoir.

The chief governor was the senior official in the Dublin Castle administration, which maintained English and British rule in Ireland from the 1170s to 1922. The chief governor was the viceroy of the English monarch and presided over the Privy Council of Ireland. In some periods he was in effective charge of the administration, subject only to the monarch in England; in others he was a figurehead and power was wielded by others.



The Lord Lieutenant of Ireland was the ex officio Grand Master of the Order of St Patrick (uniform shown here worn by William Ward, 2nd Earl of Dudley, Lord Lieutenant from 1902 to 1905). Lord Dudley, Grand Master of the Order of St. Patrick.jpg
The Lord Lieutenant of Ireland was the ex officio Grand Master of the Order of St Patrick (uniform shown here worn by William Ward, 2nd Earl of Dudley, Lord Lieutenant from 1902 to 1905).

The Lord Lieutenant possessed a number of overlapping roles.[ citation needed ] He was

Commander-in-chief supreme commanding authority of a military

A commander-in-chief, also called supreme commander, is the person that exercises supreme command and control over an armed forces or a military branch. As a technical term, it refers to military competencies that reside in a country's executive leadership – a head of state or a head of government.

Prior to the Act of Union 1800 which abolished the Irish parliament, the Lord Lieutenant formally delivered the Speech from the Throne outlining his Government's policies. His Government exercised effective control of parliament through the extensive exercise of the powers of patronage, namely the awarding of peerages, baronetcies and state honours. Critics accused successive viceroys of using their patronage power as a corrupt means of controlling parliament. On one day in July 1777, Lord Buckinghamshire as Lord Lieutenant promoted 5 viscounts to earls, 7 barons to viscounts, and created 18 new barons. [3] :66 The power of patronage was used to bribe MPs and peers into supporting the Act of Union 1800, with many of those who changed sides and supported the Union in Parliament awarded peerages and honours for doing so.

A peerage is a legal system historically comprising various hereditary titles in a number of countries, and composed of assorted noble ranks.

Baronet A hereditary title awarded by the British Crown

A baronet or the rare female equivalent, a baronetess, is the holder of a baronetcy, a hereditary title awarded by the British Crown. The practice of awarding baronetcies was originally introduced in England in the 14th century and was used by James I of England in 1611 as a means of raising funds.

John Hobart, 2nd Earl of Buckinghamshire English nobleman and politician

John Hobart, 2nd Earl of Buckinghamshire was an English nobleman and politician.

Constitutional structure

The Lord Lieutenant was advised in the governance by the Irish Privy Council, a body of appointed figures and hereditary title holders, which met in the Council Chamber in Dublin Castle and on occasion in other locations. The chief constitutional figures in the viceregal court were:

Chief Secretary for Ireland position

The Chief Secretary for Ireland was a key political office in the British administration in Ireland. Nominally subordinate to the Lord Lieutenant, and officially the "Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant", from the early 19th century until the end of British rule he was effectively the government minister with responsibility for governing Ireland, roughly equivalent to the role of a Secretary of State. Usually it was the Chief Secretary, rather than the Lord Lieutenant, who sat in the British Cabinet. The Chief Secretary was ex officio President of the Local Government Board for Ireland from its creation in 1872.

The Under-Secretary for Ireland was the permanent head of the British administration in Ireland prior to the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922.

Lord Justices (Ireland)

The Lord Justice of Ireland was an ancient senior position in the governance of Ireland, held by a number of important personages, such as the Earl of Kildare.

Lords Lieutenant were appointed for no set term but served for "His/Her Majesty's pleasure" (in reality, as long as wished by the British government). When a ministry fell, the Lord Lieutenant was usually replaced by a supporter of the new ministry.


Until the 16th century, Irish or Anglo-Irish noblemen such as the 8th Earl of Kildare and the 9th Earl of Kildare traditionally held the post of Justiciar or Lord Deputy. Following the plantations, however, noblemen from Great Britain were given the post. The last Irish Catholic to hold the position was Lord Tyrconnell from 1685–91, during the brief Catholic Ascendancy in the reign of James II that was ended by the Williamite war in Ireland. Until 1767 none of the latter lived full-time in Ireland. Instead they resided in Ireland during meetings of the Irish Parliament (a number of months every two years). However the British cabinet decided in 1765 that full-time residency should be required to enable the Lord Lieutenant to keep a full-time eye on public affairs in Ireland. [3]

In addition to the restriction that only English or British noblemen could be appointed to the viceroyalty, a further restriction following the Glorious Revolution excluded Roman Catholics, though it was the faith of the overwhelming majority on the island of Ireland, from holding the office. The office was restricted to members of the Anglican faith. The first Catholic appointed to the post since the reign of the Catholic King James II was in fact the last viceroy, Lord FitzAlan of Derwent, in April 1921. His appointment was possible because the Government of Ireland Act 1920 ended the prohibition on Catholics being appointed to the position. [4] FitzAlan was also the only Lord Lieutenant of Ireland to hold office when Ireland was partitioned into Southern Ireland and Northern Ireland. [4]

Importance of the post

The post ebbed and flowed in importance, being used on occasion as a form of exile for prominent British politicians who had fallen afoul of the Court of St. James's or Westminster. On other occasions it was a stepping stone to a future career. Two Lords Lieutenant, Lord Hartington and the Duke of Portland, went from Dublin Castle to 10 Downing Street as Prime Minister of Great Britain, in 1756 and 1783 respectively.

By the mid-to-late 19th century the post had declined from being a powerful political office to that of being a symbolic quasi-monarchical figure who reigned, not ruled, over the Irish administration. Instead it was the Chief Secretary for Ireland who became central, with he, not the Lord Lieutenant, sitting on occasion in the British cabinet.

Official residence

The Viceregal Apartments in Dublin Castle - the official 'season' residence of the Lord Lieutenant Dcastlemaindoor.jpg
The Viceregal Apartments in Dublin Castle – the official 'season' residence of the Lord Lieutenant

The official residence of the Lord Lieutenant was the Viceregal Apartments in Dublin Castle, where the Viceregal Court was based. Other summer or alternative residences used by Lord Lieutenant or Lords Deputy included Abbeville in Kinsealy, Chapelizod House, in which the Lord Lieutenant lived while Dublin Castle was being rebuilt following a fire but which he left due to the building being supposedly haunted, Leixlip Castle and St. Wolstan's in Celbridge. [3] The Geraldine Lords Deputy, the 8th Earl of Kildare and the 9th Earl of Kildare, being native Irish, both lived in, among other locations, their castle in Maynooth, County Kildare. Lord Essex owned[ citation needed ] Durhamstown Castle near Navan in County Meath, a short distance from the residence of the Lord Bishop of Meath at Ardbraccan House.

The decision to require the Lord Lieutenant to live full-time in Ireland necessitated a change in living arrangements. As the location of the Viceregal Court, the Privy Council and of various governmental offices, Dublin Castle became a less than desirable full-time residence for the viceroy, vicereine and their family. In 1781 the British government bought the former ranger's house in Phoenix Park to act as a personal residence for the Lord Lieutenant. The building was rebuilt and named the Viceregal Lodge. It was not however until major renovations in the 1820s that the Lodge came to be used regularly by viceroys. [3] It is now known as Áras an Uachtaráin and is the residence of the President of Ireland.

By the mid-19th century, Lords Lieutenant lived in the Castle only during the Social Season (early January to St. Patrick's Day, 17 March), during which time they held social events; balls, drawing rooms, etc.

Irish attitudes

The Viceregal pew in St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin Presidentspew.jpg
The Viceregal pew in St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin

The office of Lord Lieutenant, like the British government in Ireland, was greatly resented by some Irish nationalists, though it was supported with varying degrees of enthusiasm by the minority Irish unionist community. Some Lords Lieutenant did earn a measure of popularity in a personal capacity among nationalists. From the early 19th century, calls were made frequently for the abolition of the office and its replacement by a Secretary of State for Ireland. Though on one occasion, a Bill was introduced by one government to make this change,[ citation needed ] the office survived until the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922.

Irish nationalists throughout the 19th century and early 20th century campaigned for a form of Irish self-government. Daniel O'Connell sought repeal of the Act of Union, while later nationalists such as Charles Stewart Parnell sought a lesser measure, known as home rule. All four Home Rule bills provided for the continuation of the office. The Government of Ireland Act 1920 divided Ireland into two devolved entities inside the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland. Two institutions were meant to join the two; a Council of Ireland (which was hoped would evolve into a working all-Ireland parliament) and the Lord Lieutenant who would be the nominal chief executive of both regimes, appointing both prime ministers and dissolving both parliaments. In fact only Northern Ireland functioned, with Southern Ireland being quickly replaced by the Irish Free State. The powers meant to have been possessed by the Lord Lieutenant were delegated by amendment to a new Governor of Northern Ireland, while the role of representative of the Crown in the Free State went to a new Governor-General of the Irish Free State. The Lord Lieutenancy as a result was abolished.

By tradition the coat of arms of each Lord Lieutenant was displayed somewhere in the Chapel Royal in Dublin Castle; some were incorporated into stained glass windows, some carved into seating, etc.

See also


  1. O Gairbhi, Sean Tadhg (21 November 2012). "Comóradh le déanamh ar fhear Gaeltachta a crochadh go héagórach (Commemoration to be held for Gaeltacht man unjustly hanged )". The Irish Times.
  2. //ideabubble.ie. "Bliainiris 2001". www.leabharbreac.com.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 Joseph Robins, '"Champagne and Silver Buckles: The Viceregal Court at Dublin Castle 1700–1922 p.56 (Lillyput Press, 2001) ISBN   1-901866-58-0
  4. 1 2 Government of Ireland Act 1920

Further reading

Related Research Articles

Governor of New South Wales vice-regal representative of the Australian monarch in New South Wales

The Governor of New South Wales is the viceregal representative of the Australian monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, in the state of New South Wales. In an analogous way to the Governor-General of Australia at the national level, the Governors of the Australian states perform constitutional and ceremonial functions at the state level. The governor is appointed by the queen on the advice of the premier of New South Wales, for an unfixed period of time—known as serving At Her Majesty's pleasure—though five years is the norm. The current governor is retired judge Margaret Beazley, who succeeded David Hurley on 2 May 2019.

Governor General of Canada representative of the monarch of Canada

The Governor General of Canada is the federal viceregal representative of the Canadian monarch, currently Queen Elizabeth II. The person of the sovereign is shared equally both with the 15 other Commonwealth realms and the 10 provinces of Canada, but resides predominantly in her oldest and most populous realm, the United Kingdom. The Queen, on the advice of her Canadian prime minister, appoints a governor general to carry out most of her constitutional and ceremonial duties. The commission is for an unfixed period of time—known as serving at Her Majesty's pleasure—though five years is the normal convention. Beginning in 1959, it has also been traditional to rotate between anglophone and francophone officeholders—although many recent governors general have been bilingual. Once in office, the governor general maintains direct contact with the Queen, wherever she may be at the time.

Áras an Uachtaráin the official residence of the President of Ireland

Áras an Uachtaráin, formerly the Viceregal Lodge, is the official residence and principal workplace of the President of Ireland. It is located off Chesterfield Avenue in the Phoenix Park in Dublin. The building, which has ninety-five rooms, was designed by Nathaniel Clements and completed in 1751.

The Irish Social Season was a period of aristocratic entertainment and social functions that stretched from January to St. Patrick's Day of a given year. During this period, the major and minor nobility left their country residences and lived in Georgian mansions in places like Rutland Square, Mountjoy Square, Merrion Square and Fitzwilliam Square in Dublin. Those with less financial means lived in smaller properties in streets nearby.

Parliament House, Dublin Former building housing the Parliament of Ireland

Parliament House in Dublin, Ireland, was home to the Parliament of Ireland, and later housed the Bank of Ireland. It was the world's first purpose-built bicameral parliament house. It is located at College Green.

Lord Chancellor Highest-ranking regularly-appointed Great Officer of State of the United Kingdom

The Lord Chancellor, formally the Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, is the highest ranking among those Great Officers of State which are appointed regularly in the United Kingdom, nominally outranking the Prime Minister. The Lord Chancellor is outranked only by the Lord High Steward, another Great Officer of State, who is appointed only for the day of coronations. The Lord Chancellor is appointed by the Sovereign on the advice of the Prime Minister. Prior to the Union there were separate Lord Chancellors for England and Wales, for Scotland and for Ireland.

Georgian Dublin

Georgian Dublin is a phrase used in terms of the history of Dublin that has two interwoven meanings:

  1. to describe a historic period in the development of the city of Dublin, Ireland, from 1714 to the death in 1830 of King George IV. During this period, the reign of the four Georges, hence the word Georgian, covers a particular and unified style, derived from Palladian Architecture, which was used in erecting public and private buildings
  2. to describe the modern day surviving buildings in Dublin erected in that period and which share that architectural style
Governor-General of India position

The Governor-General of India was the representative of the Monarch of the United Kingdom and after Indian independence in 1947, the representative of the Indian head of state. The office was created in 1773, with the title of Governor-General of the Presidency of Fort William. The officer had direct control only over Fort William, but supervised other East India Company officials in India. Complete authority over all of British India was granted in 1833, and the official came to be known as the "Governor-General of India".

Order of St Patrick Dormant British order of chivalry associated with Ireland

The Most Illustrious Order of Saint Patrick is a dormant British order of chivalry associated with Ireland. The Order was created in 1783 by George III at the request of the then Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, The 3rd Earl Temple. The regular creation of knights of Saint Patrick lasted until 1922, when most of Ireland gained independence as the Irish Free State, a dominion within what was then known as the British Commonwealth of Nations. While the Order technically still exists, no knight of St Patrick has been created since 1936, and the last surviving knight, Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, died in 1974. The Queen, however, remains the Sovereign of the Order, and one officer, the Ulster King of Arms, also survives. St Patrick is patron of the order; its motto is Quis separabit?, Latin for "Who will separate [us]?": an allusion to the Vulgate translation of Romans 8:35, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?"

Richard Bourke, 6th Earl of Mayo politician and member of the British Conservative Party from Dublin, Ireland

Richard Southwell Bourke, 6th Earl of Mayo,, styled Lord Naas between 1842 and 1867, called Lord Mayo in India, was a statesman, Viceroy of India and prominent member of the British Conservative Party from Dublin, Ireland.

Irish House of Lords

The Irish House of Lords was the upper house of the Parliament of Ireland that existed from medieval times until 1800. It was also the final court of appeal of the Kingdom of Ireland.

Parliament of Ireland Former parliament of Ireland

The Parliament of Ireland was the legislature of the Lordship of Ireland, and later the Kingdom of Ireland, from 1297 until 1800. It was modelled on the Parliament of England and from 1537 comprised two chambers: the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The Lords were members of the Irish peerage and bishops. The Commons was directly elected, albeit on a very restricted franchise. Parliaments met at various places in Leinster and Munster, but latterly always in Dublin: in Christchurch Cathedral, Dublin Castle, Chichester House (1661–1727), the Blue Coat School (1729–31), and finally a purpose-built Parliament House on College Green.

Dublin Castle administration

Dublin Castle was the centre of the government of Ireland under English and later British rule. "Dublin Castle" is used metonymically to describe British rule in Ireland. The Castle held only the executive branch of government and the Privy Council of Ireland, both appointed by the British government. The Castle did not hold the judicial branch, which was centred on the Four Courts, or the legislature, which met at College Green till the Act of Union 1800 and thereafter at Westminster.

Viceregal throne (Ireland)

The Viceregal throne is the former throne of the Viceroy of Ireland. A set of thrones, one for the Viceroy and one for his consort, the Vicereine, were used on state occasions in Dublin Castle. The set were photographed on a daïs in St Patrick's Hall in an image in the Lawrence Collection, now owned by the National Library of Ireland.

Chapelizod House, known as the Viceregal Lodge, was a late mediaeval residence in Chapelizod, at the time a village outside Dublin which in the 1680s was used as a temporary residence for the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland following a fire which had destroyed the Viceregal Apartments in Dublin Castle. Contemporary accounts stated that the Viceroy and Vicereine abandoned the use of the house after a short time and moved to live in a property elsewhere in the city because the found that Chapelizod House was haunted.

Gerald FitzGerald, 9th Earl of Kildare Lord Deputy of Ireland

Gerard FitzGerald, 9th Earl of Kildare, also known in Irish as Gearóid Óg, was a leading figure in 16th-century Irish History. In 1513 he inherited the title of Earl of Kildare and position of Lord Deputy of Ireland from his father.