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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The seemingly endless brown bogs gave the area a look of “ sterility . ” He found
the gap at Barnesmore ( which Ritchie had dubbed a “ measureless and
mysterious gulf ” ) a wild , windy pass enlivened only by gorse blooms . Although
Traveling from Clifden towards Westport in 1852 , he stared at the barren
moorland bogs and wild mountains and marveled : “ It is here , strange to say ,
that so many of the English colonists have chosen to settle , as if they were
ambitious of ...
And though bullish about draining the bogs of Erris in 1839 , by 1841 even
Caesar Otway questioned the practicality of reclaiming the blanket bogs on
Connemara ' s mountain slopes . While some low - lying red bogs had been