Consumption and the Politics of Irish Identity

  • Martyn J. Powell


As the Protestant Ascendancy held their ‘property under the sense of perpetual insecurity’, they were, according to W.E.H. Lecky, ‘very naturally characterised by a reckless extravagance, and it was equally natural that the traditions of that extravagance should descend to their successors.’1 He painted a persuasive picture of the Protestant Ascendancy as a people under siege, and with a mind-set that had less regard for future plans – financial or otherwise – than their English counterparts. Referring to Ireland’s ‘luxurious way of living’, Samuel Madden suggested that ‘we must lay the blame of it on the circumstances of our country, and the original customs and manners of those who came over as adventurers in the many wars and troubles that so frequently happened here. As therefore the bulk of our gentry are descended from Englishmen and soldiers, they seem to have inherited their stomachs, as well as their courage’.2


Eighteenth Century Irish Woman Slave Trade Irish Society English Counterpart 
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© Martyn J. Powell 2005

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  • Martyn J. Powell

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