Professor Patrick Lynch

Mon, Dec 3, 2001, 00:00

Paddy Lynch, who died recently, was on outstanding academic economist.

He had a great intellect and succinct political judgment. Prof George O'Brien attracted him to UCD in 1951, when he became one of three appointees to statutory lectureships in economics. He had spent his earlier years in the Civil Service employed in a range of areas at senior level.

This experience helped to develop those qualities of political judgment which made his economic advice so relevant within the constraints of p ublic policy. His advice was always illuminated with the vision of an economically resurgent and socially progressive Ireland in the second half of the 20th century.

Paddy was an inspiring lecturer, who played a key role in introducing Keynesian economics into Irish policy-making. To his students he was a friend and mentor. He was always ready with advice and guidance and there are many graduates today who owe their career development to his good advice. He was a member of the Club of Rome - the only one of his Irish contemporaries to be so recognised.

Within the Faculties of Arts and Commerce in UCD, he was regarded with great respect by his colleagues and his students. When the development of postgraduate business degrees was being canvassed, he was one of the first senior academics to support the new academic development. He spoke in favour when very few voices were heard to say much in support of this major initiative.

A voracious reader, Paddy read widely in all areas of economics, theoretical and applied, but the breath of his interests transcended economic analysis and extended into many diverse areas in politics, sociology and general literature. He was a valued member of the Governing Body of UCD and the Senate of NUI where his contributions were marked not only for their sagacity but their uncompromising integrity.

UCD economists of the 1950s and1960s used to meet informally in the Royal Irish Yacht Club most Sunday evenings for dinner under the aegis of George O'Brien. Paddy would lead many of the discussions on current topics and contributed to the excellent speeches which George delivered in the Senate.

Having read into the small hours every night, Paddy would regale his colleagues with his distillation of the best of his reading and its relevance. These dinners were a joy and are well remembered by those who were lucky enough to be present. On occasion there could be a sense of minor embarrassment if one were asked to comment on a recently published book, unread by anyone else!

The chairmanship of Aer Lingus was a special pride to him - as was his later vice-chairmanship of AIB. He brought to both these organisations not only a unique perspective on the business world but also the judgment of a skilled economist wise in the ways of the world. He was the recipient of many honours, all richly deserved.

Our sympathies go out to his wife Mary and his sister Margaret, each of whom will greatly miss a man of high accomplishment and unusual warmth of personality.

M.J.M.