Invented Tourism

gaelicleague500“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.”
Creating Irish Tourism: The First Century (1750-1850)
William H. A. Williams

This practice of invented tourism/history was still in vogue circa 1910 when the Gaelic League produced a series of postcards of how it imagined the Irish people had dressed in days gone by. The photographer of the series was Irish-American and Leitrim native artist and photographer Anna Frances Levine who took them over 2 days in a makeshift studio in Manorhamilton. (Stephen Rennicks)


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