Lynch, Patrick (‘Paddy’) (1917–2001), economist, was born 5 May 1917 at 30 Upper Kevin Street, Dublin, eldest of one son and one daughter of Daniel Lynch, grocer and publican at that address, and Bridget Mary Lynch (née Kennedy). The family had roots in Co. Tipperary. After attending the Catholic University School, Dublin, he pursued an outstanding academic career at UCD, graduating BA in economics and history with first class honours, first place, and a first class exhibition (1939), and was awarded an MA with first class honours (1940) for a thesis on ‘British war finance 1939–40’. Obtaining first place in open competition in the civil service entrance examinations, he was appointed an administrative officer in the Department of Finance (1941). Along with another young colleague, T. K. Whitaker (b. 1916), he was an insurgent Keynesian within the profoundly conservative department. His belief that Ireland should pursue a policy of full employment, by means of controlled and planned state intervention in the economy, represented a radical departure from the department's traditional commitment to austere budgetary policy based on laissez-faire ideology.
Rising to the grade of assistant principal, he was transferred in 1948 to the Department of the Taoiseach as private secretary and adviser on economic policy to John A. Costello (qv), who had requested a private secretary with a sound grasp of economics. The formal appointment of such an adviser, situated outside the Department of Finance, was unprecedented, and allowed Lynch the scope to advocate his ideas outside the strictures of his former department. He played the key role in persuading Costello to adopt Keynesian interventionist policies to stimulate the stagnant Irish economy, resulting in the state's first capital budget (1950), enacted with the full support of the finance minister, Patrick McGilligan (qv), despite stiff resistance from within Finance. Lynch also served as secretary to the economic committee of the inter-party cabinet, and as chairman of the interdepartmental foreign trade committee. In 1950 he was promoted to assistant secretary to the government and of the Department of the Taoiseach; he remained in the position after Fianna Fáil returned to government in 1951.
Resigning from the civil service, Lynch accepted appointment to one of three newly created statutory lectureships in economics at UCD (1952–66); his abandonment of a promising civil-service career for an academic appointment was highly unusual at the time. His scholarly interests were applied economics and economic history. During a year's leave of absence, spent at Cambridge (1956), he was elected a fellow commoner of Peterhouse, and became acquainted with John Vaizey, who pioneered study of the economics of education. Lynch was appointed associate professor of political economy at UCD (1966–75), and became full professor with appointment to the chair of political economy (applied economics) (1975–80). One of the first senior UCD academics to support development of postgraduate business degrees, he was also instrumental in establishment of UCD's Centre for Development Studies, a forum for research on the economies of developing countries. Standing on reform platforms, he was elected to the college's governing body (1965–76), and to the NUI senate (1972–7). During the campus disturbances of 1968–9, spearheaded by radical demands of the Students for Democratic Action (SDA), Lynch joined department colleague Garret FitzGerald (qv) in attempting to defuse the situation by talking with the protestors, identifying and addressing their legitimate concerns, and nudging the protest into more moderate directions. He alienated some colleagues by attending banned protest meetings and unauthorised staff–student seminars, and admitted that some SDA leaders had been influenced by books of Herbert Marcuse on his tutorial reading lists. Lynch was a member of the Higher Education Authority (1968–72). He retired early from his professorial chair owing to illness (1980).
Lynch also occupied top-level positions in the semi-state and private sectors, through which he continued directly to influence government. As chairman of Aer Lingus (1954–75), the state-owned airline, he oversaw the company's successful performance of the 1960s, marked by steadily increasing passenger numbers, and reversal of the historic pattern of deficits into a decade of consistent profits. Early in his tenure, he resurrected and vigorously promoted the idea of a transatlantic service, realised in 1958 under a sympathetic Fianna Fáil minister, Seán Lemass (qv). A dedicated executive, who never missed a board meeting during his 21-year tenure, he was keenly attentive to the company's role in the larger Irish economy, and to the tensions inherent in its being a state-sponsored public infrastructural utility practising the methods of a commercial enterprise.
Lynch served on the nine-member capital investment advisory committee – appointed by the second inter-party government in December 1956, and continued under the Fianna Fáil government installed in March 1957 – which recommended methods to confront the severe economic slump and fiscal crisis. During 1958 he was consulted by Whitaker (now secretary of the Department of Finance) on the drafting of Economic development (published in November 1958), the landmark report that outlined the basis for the first programme for economic expansion. He was director of a major survey of the long-term needs of Irish education (1962–5), jointly sponsored by the Department of Education and the international Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Published as Investment in education (1965), the survey identified the seriously deficient flow from primary to secondary education, and the distinctions therein based on region and social class. The first systematic scientific study of the Irish educational system, the survey stimulated the manifold reforms of the latter 1960s, including the introduction of free secondary education, development of vocational education, and expanded funding of third-level scholarships. Lynch also directed a government–OECD survey on research, development, and technology in the Irish economy, published as Science and Irish economic development (1966), which led to establishment in 1969 within UCD's department of political economy of the Science Policy Research Centre, with Lynch himself as director.
A director of the Provincial Bank (1959), after its merger into Allied Irish Banks he became an AIB director (1971) and deputy chairman (1975). He was a member of the National Industrial Economic Council (1963–70); first chairman of the Medico-Social Research Board (1966–71); member, chairman, and vice-president of the Institute of Public Administration; and member of the National Science Council. He served on the Public Advisory Council, but gave a scathing assessment of its impact, ascribing failure to implement reform to the unyielding resistance of senior civil servants. In 1973 he accepted an invitation to join the Club of Rome, a prestigious international think tank exploring the future of science and technology. He was a founding member and vice-president of the British Irish Association, and chairman of the National Library of Ireland Society.
Though the range of his interests and commitments largely inhibited original scholarly research, Lynch published one major work, Guinness's brewery in the Irish economy 1759–1876 (1960), co-written with John Vaizey. One of the first exercises in Ireland in the fledgling genre of narrative business history, the study was also a revisionist interpretation of the broader economic context with profound implications for political and social historiography. Elected MRIA in 1962, Lynch served on the academy's council, sitting on the committee of polite literature and antiquities (1964–6, 1971–81), and as academy vice-president (1971–2), and treasurer (1972–80). He was made an honorary life member of the RDS (1984), and received honorary doctoral degrees from the NUI, and the universities of Dublin, Brunel, and Limerick.
Lynch was a member of the Irish Association of Civil Liberty, and of the Irish Anti-Apartheid Movement, but opposed the latter's academic boycott of South Africa as a perversion of the movement's purpose. He supported Conor Cruise O'Brien (1917–2008) – a close personal friend from their days together as young civil servants in the Department of Finance – when the latter in 1986 was pressurised to abandon a lecture series at the non-discriminatory university of Cape Town. Lynch was also a friend of the eminent North American economist John Kenneth Galbraith.
A profound and influential thinker on the relationship between economy and society, with a strong and passionate social conscience, Lynch remained ever a committed Keynesian, upholding the positive role of the state in the promotion of economic and social development. Warning against the pursuit of economic growth as an end unto itself, he argued that such growth contributed less to the common weal than spending on health, education, housing, and social security. In early adulthood he moved away from his catholic upbringing to an atheistic humanism. A voracious reader, he enjoyed both music and learned conversation on the myriad subjects of his erudition. Resident at several addresses in south Dublin city, from 1970 he lived for over twenty years at 68 Marlborough Road, before moving to 79 Wellington Road. He married first Mary Crotty (née Campbell), who predeceased him. He married secondly (1991) Mary Moloney, who survived him. He died 16 November 2001 in Dublin.