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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To them , such wild places represented a ruined postdiluvian landscape , the “
Wens , Warts , Pimples , Blisters , and Imposthumes ” of nature . In the words of
Marjorie Nicolson , mountains represented “ the rubbish of the earth , swept away
Wild Laments and Merry Wakes The British travel accounts often reveal a
fascination with the Irish way of death . As Tobias Döring points out , funerals and
graveyards are common features in travel literature , suggesting “ a clear affinity ...
He found the gap at Barnesmore ( which Ritchie had dubbed a “ measureless
and mysterious gulf ” ) a wild , windy pass enlivened only by gorse blooms .
Although the land improved somewhat as he neared Donegal town , he passed
some of ...