This Toilet Service was owned by the Fitzgerald family. A toilet service was items designed to help wealthy people prepare themselves for social and public occasions.
The word toilette comes from French for ‘little cloth’; it did not have reference to the modern-day bath or restroom.
The Fitzgeralds were an Anglo-Norman dynasty that arrived in Ireland in the 12th century and became Earls of Kildare in the 14th century. One of their direct descendants was Garrett Fitzgerald who was Fine Gael Taoiseach in the 1980s.
Kildare is a county west of Dublin and the FitzGerald’s built the current Carton House in the 18th century to be their residence.
The ceremony of the toilet was pioneered by the French monarch, King Louis XIV, where he would be joined by courtiers, favourites and others to prepare their appearance for public occasions. It was a highly social event to which friends and intimates would be invited to part take in refreshments and prepare their makeup, wigs, and clothes for a public event. A modern-day equivalent may be a bride having her nails, hair and make-up done with her friends and bridesmaids on the day of her wedding.
The preparation may have taken several hours and was only indulged in by people who had time, wealth and the status to do so.
The ceremony of the toilet became fashionable amongst Western European aristocrats and purpose-made toilet sets were made for the function. They were designed to display wealth and status and the Kildare coat of arms is emobossed on all items in the set.