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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Scanning the faces of the mourners in a funeral procession , Mrs . Plumptre
reported : “ I could not perceive any sign of tears , or the least symptom of real
grief upon the countenance of any person attending . ” For Thomas Carlyle the “
Harriet Martineau reported the widespread assumption that “ the best hope for
Ireland lies in the settlement of British capitalists who shall pay wages in cash . ”
Yet she shared Scott ' s concern that the region ' s new transportation facilities ...
For travelers ' reports during the Famine , see Melissa Fegan , “ The Traveller ' s
Experience of Famine Ireland , ” 361 – 71 . 27 . Joseph Denham Smith ,
Connemara , Past and Present , 82 – 83 . 28 . For the Encumbered Estates Act
see Peter ...