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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Bilton , touring in the 1830s , the Irish countryside had “ an unusually bare look in
the eyes of an Englishman , and reminds him more of the interior of France than
of the smiling fields of England . " Among the features Bilton missed were proper
... and economics , between beauty and utility , Thackeray grumbled : “ This
spectacle of a country going to waste is enough to make the cheerfullest
landscape look dismal ; it gives this wild district a woeful look indeed . ” 20
Nevertheless , he ...
After walking on the hillsides between Recess and Ballynahinch , they wrote : “
As you ascend , you are forcibly struck by the luxuriance of the grass . . . and you
very naturally look about you , for the sheep that are to be there converted into ...