Lynch, Nicholas (c.1590–1634), Dominican priest and prior of Galway, was born into one of the dominant and most influential families of Galway; he was the son of Nicholas Lynch FitzStephen and brother of both Sir Henry Lynch bt., recorder of Galway (1625–9), and Thomas Lynch, mayor of Galway (1625–6). Like his father he was Spanish and Portuguese-educated (Portugal being under Spanish rule 1580–1640). He first attended St Patrick's College, Lisbon, then, after entering the Dominican order, he was inscribed as a student of Salamanca University by 1615. He was in Galway in 1621, when he obtained permission from the master general of the Dominicans to go to Spain, carrying ransom money to secure the release of his kinsman, the former Galway merchant Anthony Lynch OP, who, on his way from Spain to Ireland c.1615, had been captured at sea by north African pirates and remained a captive of the king of Morocco until 1623. Nicholas Lynch was descibed by Viscount Wilmot, lord president of Connacht, in 1624 as ‘the chief father’ of the Dominican order, ‘a very learned man and of great estimation among them’, who had newly arrived from Spain, allegedly with money for a Spanish invasion of Galway and Connacht.
From c.1625 Lynch was associated with, and perhaps was the prime instigator of, a new move by the Dominicans in the field of education for the Galway catholic community. As prior of Galway in 1626–7, he was a signatory, together with his confrères Peter Martin, Stephen Lynch, Dominic Lynch, and Richard Bermingham, of an agreement (20 September 1626) between the Dominicans and his brother Thomas, mayor of Galway, which ratified the formal establishment and status of the Dominican schools. He was elected Irish provincial as successor to Ross MacGeoghegan (qv) at Sligo in June 1627, and late in that year he applied to Propaganda Fide for special faculties relating to the better administration of the province. In February 1629 he presided over a provincial chapter of eleven priors in Athenry, before setting out for Rome to represent Ireland at the general chapter (June 1629); at that meeting of the chapter he and Michael O'Connor (Michael of the Holy Spirit), procurator of the province, were named masters of theology, while Richard Caron (qv) was honoured by the award of the degree sacrae theologiae praesentatus.
From the chapter in Rome, Lynch travelled on to Louvain (September 1629) en route for Ireland. At Brussels on 8 March 1630 he was the recipient of 100 crowns from Philip IV of Spain, as he and his two companions were in great need, after their journey to and from Rome. In 1630 his term of office as provincial was extended by papal dispensation to 1632, but Nicholas Lynch never returned to Ireland: depressing news from there of a sudden burst of persecution and the confiscation of religious houses in 1630–31 prompted him to remain abroad. He reached Lisbon in January 1632 on his way to San Pablo, Seville, the venue of the 1632 chapter, which never met. He was granted a further extension of office and remained in Spain and Portugal in 1632–3. Late in 1632 he was at Madrid, petitioning the king for aid to help restore his province. In June 1633 he was once more in Lisbon to preside at a chapter of the Portuguese province. From Portugal he set out for Rome, where he was named prior of San Sisto Vecchio on 1 March 1634. He died in July 1634 and was buried at Santa Maria sopra Minerva, then the principal church of the Dominicans.
Lynch was first listed in 1625 with some contemporaries and alumni of St Patrick's College, Lisbon, as worthy of an Irish bishopric. In 1631 Hugh O'Donnell, 2nd earl of Tyrconnell, proposed him for the see of Achonry, remarking on the illustrious antecedents of his Galway family. He was proposed again c.1634 by the Dominican master general, Nicholas Ridolfi, for the see of Killala or that of Achonry. In spite of this support he was never appointed to a diocese.
Nicholas Lynch was representative of a new breed of confident, energetic, and highly competent Irish Dominicans in the seventeenth century, springing from the renaissance of reformed Dominican life in continental Europe. He was an internationalist, thanks, in part, to the cosmopolitan world of his family and his order, and was as much at home in Lisbon, Salamanca, Rome, and Louvain as in Galway and Sligo.
Another Nicholas Lynch, priest and theologian, and a relative of the Irish provincial, read philosophy and theology at the University of Paris, was permitted to graduate at the University of Caen (8 April 1620), and soon returned home to Ireland. He apparently died at St Malo c.1639.