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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describing the poverty - stricken peasants of Clear Island in 1827 , Caesar Otway
exclaimed , “ It therefore was a pleasant relief coming down from this district to
rest on the sweet clean shores of Bantry Bay . " Otway ' s rhetorical diversion ...
Touring Sligo and Mayo around 1779 , the artist Gabriel Beranger found it
necessary to travel with an Irish speaker , since many of the peasants spoke no
English . In 1809 Joseph Woods discovered that the women and children in the
In describing povertystricken peasants , however , the writers all too often settled
upon what was , for their culture , the ultimate ... Typical is Jonathan Binns ' s
comment that the peasant cabins around Manorhamilton in Leitrim were “ not half