How Irish Food Criticism Reflected and Helped Shape a Changing Nation, 1988-2008

Document Type



Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Social topics, Cultural and economic geography, Journalism, Social sciences, Folklore studies

Publication Details

Folk Life: Journal of Ethnological Studies


The perception and practice of eating out are linked to larger socioeconomic patterns. Newspaper restaurant reviews provide evidence of these trends which can be traced along a specific timeline. The early 1980s in Ireland were a difficult time for restaurants due to high taxes on food, a national recession and a lack of positive restaurant reviews. The economic upturn in the following decade contributed to unprecedented developments in the restaurant industry. Dining out became a regular activity – fueled in part by restaurant criticism by Irish food journalists, which joined pre-existing theatre, music and book reviews as regular features in national newspapers. The restaurant scene was burgeoning as Irish society experienced a new self-confidence bolstered by the growing economy. Data from restaurant reviews published from 1988–2008 in three national newspapers reveals the Dublin-centric middle-class nature of dining reflected in critics’ reviews, alongside changes in Irish society.