Social and Personal

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Social and Personal is one of the longest running columns in The Irish Times. Previously called Court and Personal it originally published the Court Circulars of the British Royal Family, the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland and details of which members of the Anglo-Irish aristocracy were available in their townhouses in Dublin to receive callers.

Following Irish independence in 1922 it covered the smaller court of the Governor-General of the Irish Free State, with entries placed, as with entries about the Lord Lieutenant, below entries about the Royal Family, both senior and junior members. In the 1940s the column became controversial when it listed engagements for the first and second Presidents of Ireland, Douglas Hyde and Seán T. O'Kelly below entries for King George VI and his queen consort, Queen Elizabeth and even junior members of the Royal Family. It justified this by noting that under Ireland's External Relations Act King George was acknowledged as "King of Ireland". Its continued use of the British Royal Family reflected the attitude of the Church of Ireland (many of whose members read the paper) which until 1949 continued to pray for "the King and Queen" in its Divine Services.[1]

Following the declaration of the Republic of Ireland in 1949 the column ceased to mention British royalty and gradually abandoned mentioning aristocracy. The name was changed to "Social and Personal".

Until around 1978 it published a daily list of who met the President of Ireland in Áras an Uachtaráin. The reasons why it stopped doing this remain unclear. The then President, Patrick Hillery suggested that the paper stopped publishing information being supplied to it. The paper insisted that it stopped receiving information from the Áras.

Today the column only makes an occasional appearance, to enable a prominent (rarely titled) family to announce forthcoming nuptials. Whereas once the Court and Personal or Social and Personal received extensive column space daily, the modern column often gets one or two inches of space on the "Letters of the Editor" page if space allows, and contains often only contains one entry and frequently goes for weeks without being published at all. It is unclear if the column, one of the paper's oldest, will survive, or simply disappear through non-use.

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