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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Figures in a Landscape The tourist ' s gaze also had an aesthetic dimension ,
especially in the age of picturesque travel . As noted earlier , much of this
aesthetic was informed by the British fascination with artistic representations of
Whenever the romantic impulse ran out of scenic material , the tourist gaze
shifted from landscape aesthetics to social ... the techniques of the picturesque
encouraged compartmentalizing a country into its aesthetic and unaesthetic parts
Unlike the upper - class theorists of the picturesque , most of the largely middle -
class travel writers had no problem mixing utility with aesthetics . They carried
with them a template for agricultural appreciation based on the aesthetics of the ...