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 ...
Poverty and the Reportorial Gaze Am Unlike the romantic landscape painters ,
who usually ignored rural poverty , most of the travel writers could not avoid
looking at and reporting on Ireland ' s poor . As Andrew Hadfield and John
Returning home , Binns was struck by the contrast between the poverty of Ireland
and the prosperity of Wales and England : “ As in a dream , I was transported
from a land of poverty and misery , to one flowing with milk and honey . " 9 But