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Great Famine came to see at first-hand the miseries of the people, and to offer analysis of ways forward, not all of which was either unhelpful or discourteous. The chapter also offers a brief study of the late-nineteenth-century writers who appeared unable to free themselves from feelings of insecurity and strife, and of how political uncertainty impinged so completely upon their texts. Drawing tourism developments and literary texts together, this chapter demonstrates the importance of the travel narrative form, its contribution to our political understanding of a particular period and its relevance to literary history more generally.
While it is commonplace to associate the eighteenth-century traveller with traditional Grand Tourism, this period also witnessed the emergence of a more locally focused form of travel, sometimes described as the Home Tour. Literally cut off from continental Europe at the time of the Napoleonic wars (c.1790-1815), increasing numbers of British travellers turned to their 'own' countries from the late 1760s onwards, visiting the Peak District and the Lake District within England, while the more adventurous journeyed into Wales, and eventually towards the Scottish Highlands and Islands, as well as across the sea to Ireland. In order to give some sense of the cultural background to these developments, this essay provides a brief account of several eighteenth-century travel accounts written about Britain before moving to a fuller consideration of Irish travel, which saw sustained interest during the same decades, but an even greater emphasis after 1800. Throughout the nineteenth century, discussions concerning national identity, security, and the future political relations between these islands permeate travellers' accounts, indicating that geographical distance was not the sole criterion for determining 'strangeness'.
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