Dinner and gender


A chara, – Writer and comedian Paula Gahan (“People ask me why I never want to go back to Ireland”, Opinion & Analysis, February 26th) found it mildly insulting that men got served first at a family dinner table, and even had bigger plates. She found it strangely hurtful at the time, having been treated with equal respect while living in London. She puts it down to boys being favourites in Ireland.

She should be thankful that she never lived in, and obviously does not have any comprehension of, the time when that tradition originated, when back-breaking physical outdoor labour for males was the norm. In all weather conditions, for very long hours with no health, safety or employment provisions, wearing clothing that did not protect them from the elements, and when there was no access to either state medical care or social welfare payments. If he couldn’t work, everybody starved.

And food at the table was limited. Not everybody can be a comedian. – Is mise,



Co Kildare.

Sir, – In our house (three females and two males) family meals are served on a random basis. Plate size depends on what is available and who sits where. When we have guests they are served first (without gender distinction) and generally with matching tableware.

I and many of your readers will recognise the meal routine in Paula Gahan’s parents’ house. My children (13, 11 and 9) would not. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 3.