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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Just as the ideal vantage point for viewing a scene was the all - commanding
prospect , so , in a society where status was the measure of man , one needed
the perspectives of class to reveal the lay of the social landscape and negoti ate
Urry argues that while the tourist ' s gaze “ varies by society , by social group and
by historical period , ” it is always “ constructed in relationship to its opposite , to
non - tourist forms of social experience and consciousness . ” 5 However , this ...
all this in the generality of Irish scenery . ” 32 By including the village , the
farmhouses , and the church spire within his mental picture of a proper rural
countryside , Woods revealed the social and economic values implicit in the
favorite British ...