An Tóstal

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An Tóstal (Irish pronunciation: [ən̪ˠ ˈt̪ˠoːst̪ˠal̪ˠ], meaning "The Pageant") was the name for a series of festivals held in Ireland in the 20th Century. Inaugurated in 1953 as a celebration of Irish life, it continued on until 1958 when it died out in most centres except Drumshanbo.

New Garda recruits march past the GPO, during the Tóstal celebrations of 1954. On the daïs is President Seán T. O'Kelly

The original purpose of the festival was a celebration of Irish culture, with an emphasis upon drawing tourists into the country during the Easter off-season. It was marked by a series of regional parades, arts and sporting events. Many towns began a clean-up plan, thus starting off the National Tidy Town Awards, which is running still in Ireland. In 1953, a set of commemorative stamps designed by Limerick artist Fergus O'Ryan, were issued by the Irish Post Office.

Chess Competitions were held as part of An Tóstal by the Irish Chess Union from 1954 to 1957.[1]

In rugby, the winners of the Munster schools cup hosted their Leinster counterparts at Thomond Park. Blackrock were beaten by Rockwell.

The 1953 Bowl of Light vandalism incident was linked to the An Tóstal. The Bowl of Light, erected in the centre of the O'Connell Bridge, was an artwork that was part of the An Tóstal movement in 1953.[2] Anthony Babington Wilson was fined £48 in 1953 for throwing the Bowl of Light into the River Liffey. The politician Colm Gallagher remarked, on the Bowl of Light, in 1953 that, 'O’Connell Bridge has been spoiled by the ‘slab of concrete’ and it was a disgrace to the city to see workmen using shovels during recent weeks to remove the water from the various openings.'.[3]

Drumshanbo in County Leitrim have the distinction of being the only place that An Tóstal has continued to run every year since 1953.

At the University of Notre Dame and Saint Mary's College (Indiana), the festival dubbed "Antostal" celebrates the last full week of classes of the academic year. The events often include competitions, sporting events, concerts and other various performances. The Irish Hockey Union held an exhibition match between Connaught Selectd XI and The Schools of Ireland XI on April 9, 1953 at The Mental Hospital grounds Carlow which the School of Ireland won by 4 to 3. The Irish Times report by A. Goodridge on the following day stated that this was the "first ever appearance" of an Irish Schools Hockey team.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ An Tostal - International Chess Tournament Dublin 1956, Ficheall Publications
  2. ^ The Bowl of Light, 9 April 1953
  3. ^ The Sunday Independent, November 1953