By Lisa Marie Griffith
This week I have been reading James Kelly & Martyn Powell (ed) Clubs and Societies in Eighteenth-Century Ireland (Four Courts, 2010). The image attached is of the Limerick Hellfire Club and was painted by James Worsdale. I did not know until reading David Ryan’s excellent article on the Dublin Hellfire Club that the painter of this fantastic image also painted both the Dublin and the London Hellfire Clubs earlier. Although David Ryan says that Worsdale held a ‘limited artistic ability’ I love this painting. Ryan says that Worsdale ‘demonstrated a knack for obtaining lucrative commissions. Over the course of his career his subjects included George II, Princess Louisa and Mary, William, duke of Devonshire, and the duchess of Newcastle.’ The image of the Dublin Hellfire Club, which is held in the National Gallery, is the image used on the cover of Kelly and Powell’s book while the painting of Limerick Hellfire Club (above) has also been used recently for David Fleming’s book, Politics and Provincial People: Sligo and Limerick 1691-1761 (Manchester University Press, 2010). Both paintings are interesting in that they put a face to elite clubs in eighteenth century Ireland but I find this one in particularly because it includes a woman.