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Creating Irish Tourism

Creating Irish Tourism

The First Century, 1750-1850

By William H. A. Williams

Based on the accounts of British and Anglo-Irish travelers, 'Creating Irish Tourism' 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.

PDF, 272 Pages


January 2011

£20.00, $32.00

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  • About This Book
  • Reviews
  • Author Information
  • Series
  • Table of Contents

About This Book

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.


'Meticulously researched and elegantly written… It would be difficult to underestimate the work’s importance for any serious student of Irish history and culture or indeed for anyone with an interest in the birth of tourism as a global phenomenon.' —Michael Cronin, Director of the Centre for Translation and Textual Studies, Dublin City University, Ireland

'A survey that brings historical detail, literary analysis and the wider cultural context wonderfully together…an admirably clear, concise and informative read.' —Glenn Hooper, Research Fellow, Open University, UK, and author of 'Travel Writing and Ireland, 1760-1860'

'A splendid account of early Irish tourism… This ground-breaking study shows why places such as Killarney and the Giant’s Causeway, as well as lesser-known Irish sites, should occupy a central place in tourism history.' —Kevin J. James, Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada

Author Information

William H. A. Williams completed his PhD from the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland in 1971. He has since worked as a lecturer, project director, and educational consultant, and has retired as Professor Emeritus from the Union Institute, College of Undergraduate Studies in Cincinnati, Ohio. His recent publications include 'Tourism, Landscape and the Irish Character: British Traveling Writing in Pre-Famine Ireland, 1750-1850'.


Anthem Studies in Travel

Anthem Irish Studies

Anthem Nineteenth-Century Series

Table of Contents

Introduction; PART ONE; Chapter One: Getting There and Getting About; Chapter Two: Tours Grand and Petite; Chapter Three: Property, Class and Irish Tourism; PART TWO; Chapter Four: The Sublime and the Picturesque in the Irish Landscape; Chapter Five: Picturesque Tourist Sites in Ireland; Chapter Six: The Tourist Experience; Chapter Seven: Killarney - A Case Study in the Irish Tourist Experience; PART THREE; Chapter Eight: Tourist Semeiotics, Stereotypes and the Search for the Exotic; Chapter Nine: On the Road--In Search of Ireland; Chapter Ten: The Famine and After; Conclusion; Endnotes; Bibliography

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