Tourism, Landscape, and the Irish Character: British Travel Writers in Pre-Famine Ireland
Picturesque but poor, abject yet sublime in its Gothic melancholy, the Ireland perceived by British visitors during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries did not fit their ideas of progress, propriety, and Protestantism. The rituals of Irish Catholicism, the lamentations of funeral wakes, the Irish language they could not comprehend, even the landscapes were all strange to tourists from England, Wales, and Scotland. Overlooking the acute despair in England’s own industrial cities, these travelers opined in their writings that the poverty, bog lands, and ill-thatched houses of rural Ireland indicated moral failures of the Irish character.
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As Andrew Hadfield and John McVeagh suggest , while the scenery of Scotland
and Wales might appear as “ natural extensions ” of England , the sea journey to
Ireland broke the British traveler ' s sense of continuity . The physical act of ...
Inglis , Journey , 1 : 80 , 81 ; 2 : 311 . 11 . Ibid . , 1 : v - vi ; Whelan , “ Modern
Landscape from Plantation to Present , " 89 . See also MacDonagh , “ Economy
and Society , ” 222 . 12 . Buzard , Beaten Track , 194 . See also Andrew Hadfield
Inglis , Journey , 2 : 213 , italics original ; see also 2 : 179 . 26 . See Thackeray ,
Irish Sketch Book , 303 . Linda Colley points out that by the late eighteenth
century , “ enlightened ” British Protestants believed that “ to be Catholic . . . was
to be ...