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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Small industries producing poor - quality goods geared to local markets could not
compete with England ' s larger , better ... By the 1820s the decline of cottage
industries based on flax production and weaving had hit the small farmers of ...
39 Many tourists did not understand that the potato also supported cottage
industries built around the production of flax and ... Whelan points out that even
as both cottage industry and large - scale , labor - intensive tillage declined in the
... them reclaiming , from amidst rocks and bogs , patches of ground on which to
cultivate their only food , the potato ; and no one witnessing this struggle of
human industry against nature but must acknowledge that the Irish can be