Jottings of my Life in Tyrone, Ireland – Dining

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Dining at Tyrone House

When I was a child, I always enjoyed watching from the stairway the beautiful women with their partners coming from the drawing room into the dining room. They made such a glowing home scene in their lovely costumes and jewels, and I remember how we children looked forward to being dressed up later on to go down and join the dinner party when dessert was served.

Dinner was always a very important affair with us. The huge table was laden down with such a profusion of marvellous old silver and gold dishes, and silver ice buckets for cooling the wines were placed on the floor between every two or three chairs. And what appetising courses were served, showing what a French chef and an Irish cook could concoct. At dinner it was the usual custom to have the footmen who arrived with the numerous guests to don their own uniforms and assist our own butlers to wait at table. It was a gorgeous spectacle to see them in their variously coloured outfits. ‘

No large dishes were allowed on the table at dinner; everyone was served from the sideboards. The table, however, being illuminated with the old candelabra lit with a hundred candles shedding their glow on the various coloured dainties, suitable for our delicate appetites, looked like a beautiful fairyland in miniature. Some of the different jellies had glass receptacles containing water embedded in their centres, wherein goldfish would disport themselves, much to the admiration of the guests. Some nights a large silver-framed. mirror occupied the centre of the table, extending nearly its whole length and all the decorations on-either side would be reflected in it.

Ladies were expected to wear the usual low-necked costume at dinner but, of course, if the lines of your throat were not up to standard, you could have your dress arranged accordingly as long as it was correct for evening wear. But at lunch it was altogether different; then we could dress in anything that was comfortable and appropriate. Afternoon tea was served by the maids in their chic black-and-white uniforms, either in the dining room, or if the weather was fine, on the lawn in the summertime. When large parties were staying on for a few days, dancing and all sorts of exciting diversions would be carried on into the early hours of the morning, but, of course, this would not continue for too lengthy a period because it was not considered beneficial for our health.

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About this record

Written by Elizabeth La Hiff Lambert

Published here 08 Sep 2022 and originally published 1979

Page 0094 of the Athenry History archive.

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