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Durham University

Department of English Studies


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Publication details for Dr Helen O'Connell

O'Connell, Helen (2012). '"A Raking Pot of Tea": Consumption and Excess in Early Nineteenth-Century Ireland'. Literature and History 21(2): 32-47.

Author(s) from Durham


Tea became a mainstay of many people's diets in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries in Ireland. However, this development was controversial. In a period of heightened counter-revolutionary anxiety, tea held a range of negative associations. This was especially pronounced in the tense conditions of post-1798 and post-Union rural Ireland. Tea-drinking was understood by reformers of the period to deepen the perceived decadent and idle tendencies of the rural poor. As such, its consumption was linked to a range of domestic and social disturbances. For many reformers of the period, tea came to represent an impediment to effective modernisation. In the process, however, tea became the focus of anxiety surrounding the general effects of modernisation itself.

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