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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Indeed , raising Paddy ' s “ moral culture ” was often seen as critical to addressing
Irish poverty , since the Edinburgh theorists held that an economy would work
only in the presence of sound moral habits . By the 1830s , as visitors ...
By the eve of the Famine the travel writers were turning Irish topography into a
moral landscape - or , rather , into two moral landscapes . There was the major
portion of the island , the predominantly Roman Catholic South and West , and
Searching for the Moral Metaphor Whether the topic was race , religion , or
character , criticism of the Irish in the 1830s and 1840s coalesced around the
ideology of moralism . Once it was assumed that Catholic ( or “ Celtic ” or “ Irish ” )