Beam 37 - A Commissioner's coatee
by F. Glenn Thompson
In the uniform collection of the National Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks, Dublin, is a coatee of a Commissioner of Irish Lights.
This elegant double breasted garment is made of fine navy blue cloth, the body lined with black silk and the sleeves lined with purple silk. On the front are two rows of gilt convex buttons set in groups of three, the top groups partially obscured by the lapels. The obverse of each button has a Victorian crown on the centre, set on a fine lined field within a circlet bearing the inscription Commissioners of Irish Lights in capital letters. The edge to the button has a roped pattern. The reverse carries the maker's name - J. Croker, Dame St, Dublin. On each shoulder is a strip of gold lace stitched to front and rear. As a rule when strips of lace were placed in this fashion epaulettes were worn, but there is no indication on the coatee concerned that these were affixed. A similar strip of gold lace is worn around the top of each cuff, complimented with three gilt buttons and three loops of gold Russia braid. The back of the coatee has six gilt buttons set on the seams, with three gilt buttons placed below each artificial pocket flap.
There is neither head-dress, waistcoat, or trousers with the coatee. It is likely that the waistcoat and trousers were navy blue but as to the head-dress, it may have been a cocked hat or peaked cap. The style of the coatee would indicate the mid-1870s. Perhaps each Commissioner would have worn one of these uniforms on formal occasions. It can only be hoped that a photograph depicting a Commissioner attired in this order of dress may come to light, which in turn would give an indication of what the complete uniform would have looked like. At some stage dress regulations would have been published.
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