Political Toasting in Eighteenth-Century Ireland

Martyn Powell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (SciVal)

Abstract

Within clubs and societies, and at dinners and taverns all over Ireland, the toast was often the central part of the evening's entertainment. Its importance lies in the symbolism inherent in eighteenth-century alcohol consumption. In Ireland, as in England and America, the toast frequently had political implications, and therefore as a ritualistic form of consumption it deserves close study. This article explores the importance of the toast in eighteenth-century Irish political life, looking at shifts in the nature and emphasis of toasting, strains of political thought contained within toasts, and the role of the toast in the formation of varieties of Protestant patriotic identity. It is argued that the toast had a complex impact upon those present, creating an additional degree of unity and resolve, a collective bonhomie, and an awareness of a shared past and a common set of goals in the present. Toasts, however, also had an impact upon the wider political community through publication in newspapers, supplied either by those present or the organizers of the meeting or the dinner. These toasts were avidly 'consumed' and then reused by a patriotic population. Thus, toasting moved from private to public and became a convenient means of broadcasting a strongly held political belief, and of encouraging support amongst the watching, and indeed reading, populace.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)508-529
Number of pages22
JournalHistory
Volume91
Issue number304
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 13 Oct 2006

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