We Banquet with King William’s Ghost: Protestant Appropriation of Linen Damask in Eighteenth-Century Ireland

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In recent years, emerging scholarship on materiality has helped sharpen our understanding of the political, social and cultural contours of Hanoverian Ireland. Attempts to forge a common Protestant patriotic identity amongst a people physically and psychologically uneasy were often constructed around a shared occasion, be it cock-fighting or the May pole. Given that a notable feature of Irish life was its lavish commensality, textiles remain a surprisingly silent and overlooked witness. This paper examines the role played by linen damask napery in a homosocial culture of Protestant associational life. In an age “when Mr Gout marched the country” and a single course consisted of no less than seven dishes, the repast was a significant trope in the lived culture of Protestant eighteenth century life. Linen damask featuring swagger portraits of King William III on horseback formed a backdrop to lavish dining and liberal toasting; an important visual spur to collective bonhomie, a welcome reminder of a shared history, and a focus for a common set of goals. Fractured by social station and pedigree, amidst an overwhelming Catholic population, Protestants found strange comfort in a ritualistic consumption where the ghost of King William III was ever present. A ghost that was made real in the linen damask napery on which they ate.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 8 Jul 2022
EventA Global Inclusive Interdisciplinary Conference: Progressive Connexions - Athens, Greece
Duration: 8 Jul 20229 Jul 2022
Conference number: 3


ConferenceA Global Inclusive Interdisciplinary Conference
Abbreviated titleTextures of Emotion Storytelling and Textiles
Internet address


  • Linen
  • Damask design
  • Damask weaving
  • Eighteenth-century
  • Protestant
  • Napery
  • Culture
  • King William III
  • Ireland


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