Weighing Up Your Visitors

visitors book

A page from the 1897/98 visitors’ book of Dunsandle, County Galway, one of a number of such items being sold today by auctioneer Oliver Usher in Kells, County Meath. Dunsandle itself is now a roofless ruin, although traces of its exquisite interior plasterwork somehow still remain (see Dun and Dusted, December 9th 2013). Therefore surviving remnants of life in the establishment, such as this book, are precious. Curiously visitors to the house had their weight and height taken on arrival: was this common procedure one wonders?

4 comments on “Weighing Up Your Visitors

  1. Jonathan Miller says:

    Surely the book would have been signed on their leaving rather than on their arrival. It’s usually considered bad luck to sign the book on any day preceding the date of departure, but that may be the English custom.They seem to come in as a pretty ‘light’ bunch!

  2. Martina Williams says:

    Now if they were weighed upon leaving, the purpose would have been very obvious…

  3. Stephen Price says:

    This puts me in mind of the chair that used to adorn the hallway of Glenveagh Castle in Donegal (perhaps it is still there, but I haven`t been through in many years). It was supposedly for weighing guests when they arrived then again just before they departed, to check whether they were concealing any silverware about their person. The other version was that if they`d put on weight, the cook got a row for overfeeding them. Either way, a peculiar way to treat visitors. Or maybe it served neither function and was just put there to wind everyone up…

    • Thank you, I wasn’t aware of the weighing chair at Glenveagh but have heard from several other people of such seats, one apparently in the Kildare Street Club. The latter makes one wonder if it could have been for choosing a suitable mount, hardly necessary when in Dublin, but otherwise what could have been the purpose. Of course perhaps formerly such devices were very expensive and therefore only found in a handful of houses, hence everyone who visited took advantage of them? To be continued…

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