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An 1893 Greystones Guide To Flirting & Matrimony

If there’s one thing a good Greystones woman has mastered the fine art of, it’s that crazy little thing called love.

You only have to step inside any coffee shop, or wine emporium, to see that the town’s womenfolk just, well, know.

They know how to dress, how to say what they mean, and how to get what they want.

As any poor Greystones lad will tell you.

That it may not have always been so is certainly suggested by one Mrs Punch, a 25-year-old Greystones woman who felt compelled to write to The Irish Times 126 years ago on the hot 1890s topic of ‘flirting and matrimony’.

Published in the weekly edition of the paper on July 22nd, 1893, the letter went very much like this…

Dear Mr Editor,

Having subscribed to your excellent paper for some years past, and being specially interested in your Letter Box discussions, I beg to offer my opinion on the subject of Flirting and Matrimony. Well, I know there are lots of girls under the impression that they will never get an offer of marriage unless they are flirts, but let me inform them they are very much mistaken, for as far as my opinion goes no right-minded young man would ever think of offering his heart and hand to girl who had no higher object in life than dressing up to the latest fashion, and flirting about after the young men of their acquaintance.

I do not mean that girls are to neglect their personal appearance and go about slovenly and untidy, but I allude to those girls who think of nothing else only trying to follow the fashion and catch a husband. Speaking from my own experience of the girls of the present day, I know lots of them who if married to-morrow, would not know how to cook their husbands’ dinners or wash his shirt, and yet they are looking out for their husbands and look down on a quiet, steady girl as an old maid because she does not flirt – only minds her business and her household affairs.

Well, if I were a young man (which, thank God, I am not) I would lookout for some sensible, pure, true-hearted girl to be my partner for life, I would certainly “steer clear” of the flirts. I know some of your readers will naturally come to the conclusion that I am sour, disappointed old maid. Well, indeed, I’m no such thing.

Though I am a maiden still; yet I do not consider myself quite an old one as I am only 25, and perhaps I could have been settled before this, only I was too hard to be pleased, as I could never bring myself to marry a man I did not thoroughly respect as well as love.

Of course I may have too high a standard of what a good man should be, and certainly the men of the present day (most of them), I must admit, are very coarse and vulgar, but I really think that is is chiefly the women’s fault, for my idea is that if all women were gentle, pure, and refined, they would have a good influence over the men they come in contact with; but men cannot really have very much respect for a good woman when they meet one if all the women and girls of their acquaintance are fast, slangy creatures.

God intended that all good women should be little less pure and good than angels, and if a bad woman is able to corrupt a good man, then whey not a good woman be able to influence a bad man for his good? I think a good, true woman is the best thing in this world. And now, Mr Editor, I will conclude thanking you beforehand for inserting this.

I am, yours truly,

Mrs Punch

Greystones, Co Wicklow, July 14, 1893

They really should think about putting this letter up on Mrs. Robinson’s wall…

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  1. David says:

    Amazing! I wonder where she was from in Greystones and did she marry after all that?