Printed cardboard souvenir toast list, for the dinner to Mr E. De Valera, Former Prime Minister of Eire (Ireland), hosted by the Executive Council of Victoria for the Irish National Foresters' Benefit Society, at the Menzies Hotel, 10 May, 1948 at 6pm.

The souvenir has space for autographs, and it includes autographs of Mr de Valera, and office bearers of the Society. Toasts included 'The Pope and the King'; 'Mr De Valera', and Dr T.j.Kiernan, who was the Minister Plenipotentiary for Eire; and the company concluded with the singing of 'God Save Ireland'.

Physical Description

Printed cardboard souvenir toast list with green and gold printing.


The Irish National Foresters' Friendly Society (later the Irish National Foresters' Catholic Benefit Society) was founded in Southern Ireland in the 1840s and was first formed in Melbourne in 1886. It provided sickness and death benefits to members, and cheaper visits to doctors, opticians and pharmaceutical benefits. It also provided a regular 'branch' meeting where members could meet and socialise, celebrating 'brotherhood', and telling stories of Old Ireland; so it provided a chance for Irishmen newly arrived in Australia to meet compatriots and become part of the Irish community. The Society still exists; it is now largely a financial institution.
These items were given to the Society by the family of Francis Michael Rearden of Albert Park, who became of member of the Daniel O'Connell Branch No. 2 of the Society in 1934, and was Secretary of the Branch for 48 years. He was also Secretary of Branch 34, South Melbourne Ladies Division, for many years. Mr Reardon was also on the Executive Council of the Society, Victoria, of over 40 years. They have been offered to the Museum by the Society. Various sashes were not accepted, as similar ones are already in the collection.
The dodgers with the Opening and Closing Choruses are interesting mementoes that indicate the main thrust of the Society's activities: keeping memories alive, helping each other, and ensuring that 'Irishmen respected be throughout Australia's land'. Although there were close ties between the Foresters and the Roman Catholic Church, the annual picnic in 1939 was held on a Sunday. The advertisement for that picnic is a rare ephemeral piece that suggests how countless trade union and work picnics, as well as Friendly Society picnics, were organised in the first half of the 20th century. This collection supplements the collection of sashes, ritual booklets, ceremonial collars and plaques already collected from the Society, and shows more about the more recent history of the organisation.

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