Wednesday, 11 October 2017

History: In Praise of 'A Pot of Irish Porter'...

I came across the following piece in an old newspaper last week, and thought it seemed worth transcribing and putting up on the blog. I'm unsure of the background to it and could not find the original article it appears to allude to, but here it is anyway...

To  the COMMITTEE  for  conducting  the  FREE-PRESS

I make bold to congratulate you upon the success of your late endeavours in the service of your country, by so strenuously recommending the use of Irish porter.
    Your patriotic sentiments are, at length, almost every where adopted, and there are not now in the whole city, over half a dozen houses of any note, that continue to sell English porter, and they too (being only frequented, either by Englishmen, or those connected with the interest of the porter merchant) must very soon fall in with the rest, or else, by obstinately persisting to oppose the laudable wish and intentions of the publick, become neglected and despised.
    Curiosity, and a desire to contribute my little moiety to the general good, induces me often to mingle with my countrymen in their hour of relaxation, at these meetings, and it is with secret pleasure I remark the chearful[sic] satisfied countenance each consumer of this wholesome beverage displays, when he calls for A POT OF IRISH PORTER : the inward gratification he feels, whilst drinking the produce of his native soil, and contemning that of ungenerous Britain, is happily expressed in his face, and nothing but mirth, harmony and friendship are every where found to be the attendant effects of it.
    To you Gentlemen, the lovers of Ireland are particularly indebted, as the principal promoters of this happy change. Which, whilst it keeps at home many thousands heretofore lavished on ungrateful neighbours, has also rendered a material saving to the laborious class of people, by being so much cheaper and from its healthful and enlivening qualities inspiring a universal love and fellowship that is evident on every occasion.
    On this point then, there remains nothing now to wish, but that the Brewers of Irish Porter, continue to do that justice they have so well began with: and let it not be said that this great and necessary undertaking (like many others for publick utility) shall in its infancy fall to the ground because ------- very much encouraged.
      I am, Gentlemen,
            Your most humble servant,
                       A NATIVE
    Sep. 1 1779
~ Freeman's Journal September 1779 - Via Carlow Library Local Studies Room

Stirring words indeed! There seems to be more to this letter of course than just Irish porter and it could be classed as incitement to hatred perhaps, against porter from 'ungenerous Britain' at the very least!

Regardless of the deeper sentiment our writer is getting at, there are a few valid point we can still take from this...

The drinking of local beer, if it suits your palate and purse, and the gratification it elicits; that 'cheerful, satisfied countenance' that enjoying a pint in good company can evoke; and the need to always question what we drink, or eat for that matter, and ask, 'Is there a better alternative?', and that 'better' can mean something different to everyone of course...

Anyhow, I'm off to look for a pot of Irish porter ... wish me luck!



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