John Victor Luce

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Trinity College , Dublin Late 19th Cent.,_late_19th_century_(7548442648).jpg
Glasgow University 2009 by Mike Peel
Long Room, Trinity College Watercolour by James Malton
Westport Bay (from Croagh Patrick),Westport,Co.Mayo,Ireland_-_panoramio.jpg
Westport Co. Mayo IRELAND

Classicist Author / Orator / Sportsman

This professor led a very accomplished lifestyle. He was a world authority on Classical Greece.

John Victor Luce was born in Dublin on 21st May 1920.  John Victor Luce was one of three children of Arthur Aston & Lilian (nee Thompson) [i]


He was nephew of Gordon Hannington Luce the noted scholar of Burmese & Asian history.  He was the first cousin of Rex Warner. [ii]


J. V. Luce learnt Greek from his father when he was aged five years old.  Luce studied at Baymount School, Dublin also at Cheltemam College.  He entered Trinity College Dublin during 1938 to read classics with philosophy.  He was elected a scholar during his first year which was a magnificent distinction; J. V. Luce took a double moderatorship in classics &  philosophy.  He was awarded gold medals in both subjects. [iii]


John Victor Luce  became a research student at Oxford, U. K.  followed by his Bachelor’s Degree in 1942 with a Masters during 1945. [iv]


J. V. Luce was an accomplished sportsman. He captained the Trinity College hockey team, squash rackets, cricket clubs.  He played for the Phoenix cricket club first X1.  He won six caps with Ireland’s hockey team.  He was also selected to play for Oxford in the annual colours match against Cambridge. [v]

J. V. Luce was a committed chess player with Rathmines Chess Club also he participated in Leinster Leagues.  (An Appreciation  Page 152) [vi]

Trinity College

J. V. Luce completed three years as a junior lecturer at Trinity College. J. V. Luce was the 62nd vice-provost of Trinity College Dublin from 1987 to 1989. (a position held by his father Arthur A. Luce from 1946 to 1952)  He was elected a fellow of Trinity College during 1948.  He was appointed reader in classics during 1963.  He served as tutor also senior tutor until 1971. During that year he was appointed assistant professor of classics.  Senior Dean from 1077 to 1985 then vice-provost from 1987-1989.  John Victor Luce also acted as the public orator at Trinity from 1972 to 2005. [vii]


J. V. Luce acted as senior dean from 1077 to 1985 then vice-provost from 1987 to 1989:


J. V. Luce was a visiting professor to United States also African universities. [viii]

J. V. Luce was appointed Erasmus Smith’s Professor of Oratory during 1984:


J. V. Luce was a guest lecturer on Swan Hellenic Cruises. [ix]

From 1946 to 1948 he lectured in Greek at Glasgow University:


J. V. Luce married Lyndall Miles (whose maternal grandparents were born in Co Mayo) during 1948; she was Scottish. She had graduated from St. Andrew’s University with a degree in history. She was a lecturer in Scottish also became a pioneer in the work of housing the elderly. They had three daughters.  (no. 25 pages 94-102) [x]


Luce received the Runciman Award for Celebrating Homer’s Landscapes during 1998:


J. V. Luce was a classicist:

John Victor Luce acted as chairman of Trinity Week committees.  He was elected secretary of Trinity Trusts.  He was chairman of Dublin University Central Athletic Club. [xi]

J.V. Luce was a Bloomsbury Group member.  Governor of the High School in Dublin during 1995. He was elected president of the Classical Association of Ireland then  three years later he was co-opted as patron of the Irish Institute for Classical Studies. [xii]


J. V. Luce was elected chairman of DUCAS during 1956 for two decades.  He was instrumental in ensuring that no residences were built at College Park in 1971.  During 1957 he secured offices in House 27 for DUCAC & the Knights of the Campanile. (Annual Report, page 23) [xiii]

Royal Irish Academy

J. V. Luce was elected to the Royal Irish Academy during 1973.   He became an honorary member of Royal Dublin Society in 1992. [xiv]


John Victor Luce contributed to a wide range of academic journals.  His first publication  was The End of Atlantis.  His publications included; The Quest for Ulysses 1974,  Homer and the Heroic Age’ 1975 also An Introduction to Greek Philosophy 1992.  He was the author  of the very readable Trinity College Dublin; The First 400 Years 1991.   J. V. Luce penned the Airodrome.   His last book was entitled Celebrating Homer’s Landscape. [xv]


Due to his love of angling they purchased a holiday cottage during 1952 at Killeenacoff, near Westport for four hundred & fifty pounds.  It was basic; without running water or electricity.  John &  Lyndall Luce recorded the story of their 1950’s experience in an entertaining article in the Cathair na Mart Historical Journal. (No. 25 pages 94-102) [xvi]

He was an angler who spent several enjoyable trips on Westport rivers also in the Bay:


J. V. Luce’s demise occurred when he was aged ninety years old in Dublin following a short illness on 11th February 2011. [xvii]


J. V. Luce wrote with an elegant dignified simplicity yet its forcefulness, effectiveness plus structural clarity was certainly informed by the best principles of Classical rhetoric.  The same rhetorical principle informed his Latin.  According to reviews his public orations were likened to the style of Pliny the Elder.  His first publication The End of  Atlantis  shed new light on the old legend yet it remains the best discussion on the subject.  His last publication was Celebrating Homer’s Landscape.   Known as a beautifully written Classical account. [xviii] 

Luce Hall

Luce Hall at Trinity College was dedicated on April 21st 1982 to mark the contributions of both J. V. & his father A. A. Luce had made to sport at the college.  A plaque inside the building has inscription The Luce Hall  honouring A. A. Luce and J. V. Luce Senior Fellows and Sportsmen. (Annual Report, page 23)  [xix]

Lyndall Luce penned a letter to The Irish Times  published on 2nd September 2015 re the demolition of Luce Hall. (Sept 2nd 2015) [xx]

Further Information

As J. V. Luce had recalled, ‘polite society was astonished to see a clerical Fellow of Trinity addressing public meetings from the same platform as Connolly and Larkin.’ [xxi]

John Victor Luce was described as a ‘careful scholar who writes well and argues his case persuasively’ in a Daily Telegraph Review.   In the dining hall at Trinity College there is a picture of  J. V. Luce alongside a portrait of his father at this link. [xxii]

This is a link to  J. V. Luce’s publications:


Cathair na Mart Historical Journal  2006 – 2007 (no. 25 pages 94-102)

Cathair na Mart Historical Journal  2012  (an appreciation page 152)




[iii] Ibid

[iv] Ibid


[vi] Cathair na Mart Historical Journal 2012



[ix] Ibid

[x] Cathair na Mart Historical Journal  2006/2007




[xiv] Ibid


[xvi] Cathair na Mart Historical Journal  2006/2007








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