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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Rural land - use patterns were also different . Rather than following the British
landlords in depopulating their estates , many Irish landlords preferred to
maximize their rents by allowing their tenants to continually subdivide their
Irish landlords contributed significantly to the country ' s economic growth in the
second half of the eighteenth century . ... 14 The quality of the road system
created by the landlord - controlled county grand juries surprised most visitors .
22 Many visitors blamed the Anglo - Irish landlords for much of the country ' s
poverty . Sir John Carr observed that it was the fate of the Irish peasantry “ to
languish under the oppression of the agents of absentee lords , and to be wasted
to the ...