Creating Irish Tourism: The First Century, 1750-1850

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Anthem Press, 2011 - History - 274 pages
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Although modern tourism did not begin in Ireland, it developed there rapidly after 1750, making the island one of the first counties in which tourism became a driving economic and cultural factor. Based on the accounts of British and Anglo-Irish travelers, this book charts the development of tourism in Ireland from its origins in the mid-eighteenth century to the country's emergence as a major European tourist destination a century later. Ireland presents an example of how modern tourism developed as a self-organizing system. There were no tourist boards, no planning commissions, no government grants and no consultants. Apart from some basic infrastructure, such as roads and hostelry, most of the elements needed to support tourism in Ireland emerged without over-arching planning, and coordination largely through the generally uncoordinated actions of landlords, entrepreneurs, and the peasantry.

Given its scenic attractions and proximity to Great Britain, Ireland's position as a tourism Mecca might seem inevitable. Yet tourism in Ireland, as anywhere else in the eighteenth century, had to be invented. Mountains and lakes had to be reconfigured in the public imagination as tourist sites. Through the descriptive accounts of travel writers the sites had to be identified and defined in ways that made them attractive and meaningful to potential visitors. Landlords often opened and organized the sites for visitors. However, the actual activities on the ground - what the tourists viewed and experienced - evolved out of the interaction between the visitors and the veritable army of peasant guides, jarvies, vendors, porters, and beggars who greeted and served them. These contacts combined with British stereotypes regarding the Irish to create distinctly 'Irish' tourist experiences.

In addition to period travel writing, this work draws upon recent scholarship in the fields of tourism and travel studies to produce the first investigation of the history of the initial century of Irish tourism.


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About the author (2011)

William H. A. Williams completed his MA and PhD from the Department of History at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland in 1971. He has since worked in a variety of positions, as a lecturer, educational consultant, first lieutenant, and project director, and has retired as Professor Emeritus from the Union Institute, College of Undergraduate Studies in Cincinnati, Ohio. He has taught courses such as 'The Irish Famine and The Irish-American Experience'. His recent publications include ‘Tourism, Landscape and the Irish Character: British Traveling Writing in Pre-Famine Ireland, 1750-1850’. He also edited ‘Daniel O’Connell, The British Press and the Irish Famine: Killing Remarks’, written by his late wife Leslie A. Williams.

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