Duelling with pistols was popular in Ireland in the period 1770 to 1830. The Rigby family of Dublin were Ireland’s most famous gunmakers. They improved the design and accuracy of duelling pistols.
A duel was a prearranged fight between two people with a sword or pistol to settle a quarrel. It originated in Europe and became part of a code of honour for an Irish gentleman. Gentlemen who had fought a number of duels were known as “fire eaters”.
George Robert Fitzgerald (1748-1786), is one of the subjects of the family portrait on display in the Museum Galleries. He is said to have been one of Ireland’s most prolific and ruthless duellists or ‘fire eaters’. He would have used pistols similar to those on display here.