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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After entering Ulster , Thackeray exclaimed : “ A sort of weight seems all at once
to be taken from the Englishman ' s mind on entering the province , when he finds
himself once more looking upon comfort and activity and resolution . " 18 Yet ...
... 94 ; on potato cultivation and morality , 159 - 60 ; on race in Ulster , 154 ; on
round towers , 36 ; on steam travel , 12 ; on tourist guides , 70 ; on Ulster ' s
uniqueness , 152 ; on wakes , 75 – 76 Hall , Spencer T . , 86 , 106 , 140 Harbison
, Peter ...
... misread social landscape , 109 - 10 ; narrative strategies of , 58 – 62 ; and the
potato , 98 - 99 ; and reinvention of Ulster , 153 , 158 ; and reportorial gaze , 85 -
86 , 89 , 196 ; and Roman Catholic religion , 40 - 45 , 155 - 57 ; and sectarianism