Authentic Experience

“For instance, Ireland is immensely popular with German visitors, who buy up traditional houses and stay there permanently. The motivating factor seems to be a sense of alienation from their own society, and a desire to return to a lifestyle which is perceived as authentic. Thus the contemporary cultural symbols of this new middle class include health food, real ale, real bread, vegetarianism, natural childbirth, wool, lace, cotton, traditional non-western medicines, cycling, mountaineering, and fell-walking rather than contrived, organized leisure. It is this group who seem to be the main consumers of cultural tourism.”

-Moya Kneafsey in Culture, Tourism and Development: The Case of Ireland (1994)

As a county Leitrim is something of a cipher and whatever life people want to live here, what they perceive to be authentic or otherwise, they can. It may take sometime to establish that life as well as others who want to share it, eg. farmers markets, but if the desire is there it can become reality. I wouldn’t think that Leitrim is unique in this however but for various reasons, the price of land and housing being key, it has traditionally been and remains a place where a certain type of supposedly ‘authentic’ experience (like the one described above) can be lived easily enough. Although in this financial respect many more places in the country are currently like Leitrim and for this reason it is something the local tourist board and county council could be wise to exploit.

On the subject of Germans living in Leitrim, it has the highest population of Germans and German-speakers per capita of any county, I would recommend the book Lebensreform in Leitrim (2011) by the artist Sarah Browne. Lebensreform in Leitrim is a kind of surrealist ethnography which addresses the countercultural legacy of migrants to the Northwest of Ireland, and evokes an emotional geography of desired alternatives.” (Stephen Rennicks)

A postcard and print of this image can be purchased at this link.

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One thought on “Authentic Experience

  1. It’s amazing how people will choose to live when the financial pressures are less and they get away from the group-think mentality. Pity we as a species feel we have to “get away” from it all before we can live the life we want.

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