Primogeniture, Strict Settlement and the Rituals of Masculinity on an Irish Landed Estate, 1855–90
This chapter analyses the construction and performance of Anglo-Irish governing masculinity through the public rituals of birth, coming-of-age, marriage and death. Communal celebrations marked the journey of the heir and landowner through life and were intimately linked with the succession practices of strict settlement and primogeniture. Focusing on one generation of the Dillons of Clonbrock in County Galway between 1855 and 1890, this chapter explores the link between strict settlement and the rituals which celebrated and affirmed aristocratic male heirs as society’s ideal leaders. It explores how the legal and cultural elements that underpinned this form of masculinity were challenged by historical change and ultimately supplanted by the emergence of a new hegemonic masculinity which was, in class terms, the antithesis of aristocratic manhood.