Published online by Cambridge University Press: 30 October 2019
This article examines the contribution the Mercer’s Hospital charity services made to musical life in eighteenth-century Dublin, contextualizing how this activity reflects aspects of Dublin’s wider social and cultural life during this period. The extent to which the Mercer’s charity services reflect benefit performances in eighteenth-century Ireland and Britain will be established, before the discussion turns to an exploration of the performing network. Mercer’s Hospital was one of several voluntary hospitals established during the eighteenth-century, its governors, dominated by the Anglo-Irish elite, possessing established connections with musical, social, and religious organizations in Dublin, provincial Ireland, and London. Mercer’s governors were part of a wider network of amateur musicians who through their patronage of the arts enabled Dublin to sustain an intense level of musical activity for much of the eighteenth century. Works by Handel dominated programming, thus demonstrating the preference for music in the Italian style and the desire to identify with London tastes, illustrating the strong cultural connections between Ireland and Britain.