Lord Lieutenant of Ireland

Lord Lieutenant of Ireland
Flag of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.svg
Standard of the Lord Lieutenant
StyleThe Right Honourable
as a member of the Privy Council
ResidenceDublin Castle
AppointerLord of Ireland
Monarch of Ireland
Monarch of the United Kingdom
Term lengthAt the Sovereign's pleasure
Final holderThe Viscount FitzAlan of Derwent
Abolished6 December 1922
SuccessionGovernor of Northern Ireland and Governor-General of the Irish Free State

Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (UK: t/; 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.


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

  • the representative of the King (the "viceroy");
  • the head of the executive in Ireland;
  • (on occasion) a member of the English or British Cabinet;
  • the fount of mercy, justice and patronage;
  • (on occasion) commander-in-chief in Ireland.
  • Grand Master of the Order of St. Patrick

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.