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‘Erin’s King’: The Politics and Pageantry of George IV’s Visit to Ireland in 1821

October 4, 2021 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Presented by Pearse Street Library

On 12 August, 1821, George IV embarked on his first and only visit to Ireland. Military pageantry, elaborately decorated buildings, and a multitude of loyal subjects and curious onlookers greeted the King wherever he went. From early in his reign, George IV planned to visit Ireland, and even the death of his estranged wife Caroline five days before arriving in Dublin did not alter his plans.

George IV’s visit to Ireland has often been likened to a carefully managed theatrical performance in which the King assumed the principal role. The role of the rest of the cast (from all classes of Irish society) was simple –to show unity, loyalty, not to highlight any grievances, and in return, they would gain benefits – of some kind. This talk, which provides a political and cultural context to the visit, is interspersed with songs and poetry written in honour of George IV’s historic sojourn in Ireland.

Mary Louise O’Donnell is a musician and musicologist who has performed extensively throughout Ireland, Europe, Africa and Asia as a soloist and with various ensembles. She was awarded a doctorate by the University of Limerick in 2009 and, since then, has published widely on topics relating to Irish cultural history, semiotics and performance studies. Her first book, Ireland’s Harp: The Shaping of Irish Identity c. 1770-1880, was published in 2014 by UCD Press. Mary Louise has received many awards and grants to further her research, including an Irish Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship, Fulbright Scholarship, and a Georgian Papers Project Fellowship . In 2019, she was appointed Musician-in-Residence with Fingal County Council; in 2020, she collaborated with her sister Teresa to record an album entitled ‘Heavenly harps, heavenly cloths: contemporary music for the Irish harp by Brian Boydell’.