Lynch, Patricia Nora (1894–1972), children's writer, was born 4 June 1894 in Cork city, daughter of Timothy Patrick Lynch and Nora Lynch (née Lynch; a first cousin), already the parents of a son, Patrick Henry. Information about her early years is scarce and most of what there is comes from her autobiographical A storyteller's childhood, first published in 1947, although the extent to which this is reliable is uncertain. Her father, described on her wedding certificate as ‘stockbroker’, is known to have dabbled in various pursuits, including journalism. He appears from the autobiography to have been an adventurer, wandering abroad in search of his fortune. By the time Patricia was five, he was in Egypt, where her mother decided to join him. This involved leaving the young child in the care of a Mrs Hennessy from Bantry, renowned in the vicinity as a storyteller. It was from her that Patricia inherited her fascination with Irish lore and legend. Later, many of the details of her experiences in the Hennessy household would pass into her children's stories.
Within a year, however, the happiness of Patricia's life with Mrs Hennessy was broken by the news of her father's death. She, her mother, and her brother now embarked on a frustrating search for his business partner, a Mr Blanchard, and the possible inheritance that his discovery might bring. This journey was the prelude to some five or six years of a peripatetic existence in Britain, during which Patricia was sent to board with various families and during which she attended a number of schools, mainly convents. Her early ambition to write was nourished by some of the teachers she met there and by the age of 13, when she was living briefly in Somerset, some of her poems were published in a local newspaper. The following year, while on a trip with her mother and brother to Egypt, apparently to claim land belonging to her father, illness intervened and she broke her journey at Bruges, where she lived for a period with a family called Baerasael in their shop and boarding house. An encounter here with a Miss Carmichael, a travel journalist, confirmed her intention to be a writer.
During her late teens and early twenties she was in London, writing articles for various newspapers and magazines, mainly in a freelance capacity. Her article, ‘Scenes from the rebellion’, written originally for a suffragette paper, The Workers' Dreadnought, became famous as one of the earliest and most graphic eye-witness accounts of the Easter 1916 events in Dublin. Her preparation for this necessitated a precarious journey from London to Ireland and a number of harrowing experiences in the Dublin streets. On 4 October 1922 she married the English writer Richard Michael (R. M.) Fox , three years her senior. Of working-class origins, he had strong socialist and pacifist leanings and had long had a deep interest in Irish history and politics. Shortly after the marriage, they moved to Dublin, where they lived at 39, The Rise, Glasnevin.
Patricia Lynch's earliest children's stories were published in the Irish Press in 1931. It was in the same newspaper that the novel that subsequently appeared in 1934 as The turf-cutter's donkey was first published, in serial form. Between then and 1967, when her last children's novel was published, she wrote some fifty children's books and around two hundred short stories. Her books are in a variety of genres, including fantasy, the realistic adventure story, and historical fiction, many of them being illustrated by distinguished Irish artists of the time, including Eileen Coghlan, Peggy Fortnum, Seán Keating (qv), Harry Kernoff (qv), and Jack B. Yeats (qv). Other than the titles describing the adventures of Long Ears the donkey, her most widely remembered books are probably those featuring Brogeen the leprechaun. In her more realistic writing she addressed such themes as childhood rejection, loneliness, and emigration. Her work was translated into several European languages and won various national and international awards. It now occupies a significant, if dated, place in the history of Irish children's literature.
There were no children of the marriage and after her husband's death on 29 December 1969, Patricia moved to Monkstown, Co. Dublin, to the home of her friends Mai and Eugene Lambert. She remained there until her death on 1 September 1972 and is buried, with her husband, in Glasnevin cemetery. The Lamberts were entrusted with her papers, letters, and possessions.