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.
Results 1-3 of 22
In the mind of a viewer confronted by a vast , dramatic landscape , the sense of
beauty could give way to feelings of awe . Dark , narrow passes between
towering mountains , sea cliffs looming above thundering waves , precipices
10 Whereas beauty had been regarded as “ smooth ” and harmonious and the
sublime as vast and terrifying , the picturesque was initially associated with
subjects that were rough , broken , ruined , aged , or in some way exotic . At the
See Edward Wakefield , An Account of Ireland , Statistical and Political , 1 : 18 .
For the Cobbett quotation see Thomas , Man and the Natural World , 257 . For the
picturesque theorists ' insistence upon the separation of beauty and utility , see ...