Clubs and societies emerge as a distinct feature of the Irish social landscape from the end of the seventeenth century. The most notable early organization was the Dublin Philosophical Society founded in the 1680s. But it was merely the first manifestation of a phenomenon that produced a vast array of clubs and societies shaping social, political and intellectual life in the eighteenth century.
Some – the Hellfire Club, the Free Masons, the Friendly Brothers of St Patrick, the Royal Dublin Society – have left a rich legacy, but there is a far greater number of philanthropic and charitable bodies, intellectual societies, political bodies such as the Aldermen of Skinners Alley, dining and drinking clubs, sports and hunting clubs, and many more that have been all but forgotten. This collection will reveal the richness of the associational impulse in eighteenth-century Ireland.