Richard FitzRalph was born in Dundalk around 1300. Although his contemporaries referred to him to as “Hibernicus,” he was, like Peter of Ireland (ca. 1200–1265), born of an Anglo-Norman family. He was a fellow of Balliol College, where he gained his MA, and later went to University College, where he graduated with a doctorate in theology in 1331. He became chancellor of the University of Oxford in 1332, embarking thereafter on a successful ecclesiastical career both in England and in Ireland. On his first visit to Avignon, only five years after concluding his lectures on the Sentences, FitzRalph was consulted as one of the eighteen leading theologians of Europe by Pope Benedict XII to correct the views of his predecessor, John XXII, on the beatific vision. He became archbishop of Armagh in 1347.

He is perhaps best known for his opposition to the mendicant orders on the question of evangelical poverty and his defense of the rights of the secular clergy against the friars. It was while pursuing his suit against the mendicants that he died at Avignon in 1360. In the company of Ockham, Bradwardine, and Wodeham, FitzRalph became one of the four most frequently cited insular theologians in the fourteenth century.