Ireland & Wales

Special Collections Exhibitions
Enlarging the prospects of happiness
  Great cities of Italy
  Pompeii & Vesuvius
  Philosophy of travel
  The picturesque
  England & Scotland
  Ireland & Wales
  Women travellers
  North & South America
  Travel publishers
  Twentieth-century travel writing
  Check lists
Ireland has never enjoyed an easy relationship with the mainland. Wales has not suffered nearly as much, but is frequently subjected to similar treatment in travel accounts. These three examples capture the sources of tension: on the one hand an intense appreciation of the natural beauty of the place; on the other a concern or disgust at its lack of development. Ireland only achieved popularity as a tourist destination in the twentieth century, in part driven by visits from descendants of Irish emigrants who fled poverty and famine in earlier centuries.

Superior tastes

Not originally written for publication, Carlyle's notes typify the confident superiority of the English traveller through the centuries. As he notes of Youghal, 'What can be the use of such a place', with its 'dingy semi-savage population'? (111). Published accounts are rarely so frankly disdainful, but Carlyle's rough verbal sketches also evoke a lively sense of the places he visits.
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Sotheby's musings

Sotheby's youthful poems eagerly evoke the picturesque, and the engravings added to this second edition only heighten that sensibility. An evocation such as 'Hail, solemn wreck!' (10) does not connote praise, and the beauty of the moonlit ruin proves a refreshing tonic only to the traveller who can leave behind the dilapidation evident by daylight:

the musing mind
Oft 'mid the pensive pleasures that attend
The close of day, with many a mournful thought
Opprest, sad dwells on life's swift passing scene,
And dreams of bliss delusive. . . . (11-12)

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Touring in Ireland

Forced into farming by family debt and a foppish youth, Young was an inept practitioner, but annual receipts from his agricultural tours exceeded £1000 by 1770. This particular tour never moved beyond a first edition: the theft of a trunk containing his journals and specimens deprived Young of the materials to compose a vivid or detailed account. However, his attack on the bounty charged for carting corn to Dublin led to an immediate halving of the fee.

Mavor's collection is typical of the more than one hundred collections of travels, extending anywhere from 4 to 76 volumes, compiled in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. If the market was not entirely flooded, and there is no evidence that it was, the demand for such collections must have been virtually insatiable.
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