Travelling to Write, 1850–1860

  • Glenn Hooper


Ireland in the nineteenth century experienced significant political, economic and social change. Although the Famine was in itself an event of unimaginable misery, it continued to alter Irish, and Anglo-Irish, life for the remainder of the century. Travellers and other commentators, we have seen, reported on events as they occurred between 1845 and 1850, yet the post-Famine years, when a perceptible reduction in interest might be expected, saw a surprising, and additional, development. In this chapter I wish to examine a range of writings on Ireland that were published in the years immediately following the worst effects of the Irish Famine, and I want to especially concentrate on the writings of travellers to the country, but also on several promotional texts, the alignment between the two forms being particularly close throughout the 1850s and early 1860s. Alison Blunt suggests that ‘Travel is bounded by points of departure and destination but in an arbitrary, retrospective way defined by perceptions of “home” that can themselves arise only with critical distance.’1 In the course of this chapter I want to show how the concept of ‘home’ could undergo displacement, could at times even force a dramatic sense of reinvention, as the pressures of imperial desire meshed with the realities of Famine in mid-nineteenth-century Ireland.


Daily News Travel Writing Vast Extent Irish Famine Travel Literature 
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    Thomas Drummond (1797–1840) was a Scots engineer who invented the limelight as well as an improved version of the heliostat. He was appointed Under-Secretary at Dublin Castle (1835), and is mainly remembered for helping to reform the Irish police, and opposing the excesses of the Orange Order. For further discussion, see M. A. G. Ó Tuathaigh, Thomas Drummond and the Government of Ireland 1835–41 (Dublin: National University of Ireland, 1977).Google Scholar
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© Glenn Hooper 2005

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  • Glenn Hooper

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