Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Going to the Ball

In this Bicentenary year of the Battle of Waterloo there has been many military events to mark the occasion, luckily a member of the Jane Austen Society of Ireland also had the good sense to commemorate the social events of 1815 too. Eileen Morgan Brown (secretary of the Irish Byron Society and member of JASI) played hostess for the Duchess of Richmond's Ball in association with Meath County Council and Kells and District Tourism Forum. Held in the wonderful Georgian residence of Mr T. Fitzherbert, Rockfield House, Kells, it was fashioned like a country house ball held in the Regency era. As a member of the Irish Historical Costumers (IHC), I attended in full costume and my friends and I gave a regency dance demonstration accompanied by Jean Carr on Piano. We heard an extract from Childe Harold's Pilgrimage by Byron and a wonderful oration by Dr. Gerald Morgan entitled “Wellington the man”. The ball was attended by both the British and French ambassadors. The “Red coats” were in attendance too but unlike the poor Duchess of Richmond who’s ball was ruined by the advance of Napoleon and the departure of most of her male guests, including Wellington, to fight at the battle of Waterloo the next day, we ate a hearty meal, drank wine and danced the night away.
Another social event associated with the commemorations of 1815 is the Ball held by Mrs Boehm’s on 21st June 1815 at the East India Club. In attendance was the Prince Regent and the Duke of York however the ball was cut short by the arrival of news of the victory over Napoleon. Mrs Boehm’s dinner party was ruined. Intrigued by this story Eileen who hosted the Duchess of Richmond Ball decided to host another ball - a masquerade ball to honor the unfortunate Mrs Boehm. The venue was the Arts Club in Fitzwilliam Street. My IHC friends and I were again called upon to give a regency dance demonstration, we had a another wonderful evening of music,
delicious food and lively conversation. Both occasions were so enjoyable and a great way to experience a little taste of regency living. The balls I attended had a much better outcome of course than those of the unfortunate Duchess of Richmond and Mrs Boehm, but I love that I got to bring history to life.

Read more HERE about The Duchess of Richmond and Mrs Boehm

By Sinead Ryan Coughlan