Journey into the past – Connacht Tribune – Galway City Tribune:
Lifestyle – Visitors’ impressions of Galway and its people from 1840 to 1940 are explored in this year’s Great Readings of Galway, a celebration hosted by local public libraries. JUDY MURPHY hears about a series of events examining a century of travel writing about the region and learns the story of a couple who were captivated by this “exotic” place on a tour before the Great Famine .
A sighting in a travel book about Conamara being overrun with “tourist crowds,” might strike a chord with people who have witnessed the number of visitors who have traveled to the West in recent years.
What is surprising is that this comment has not been made recently. In fact, it was recorded in the early 1840s when travel writers Samuel Carter Hall and Anna Maria Hall visited Ireland for a three-volume travel series titled Ireland: Its Scenery, Character, etc.
The husband and wife team, who made a living creating guides, were among the earliest promoters of tourism in Ireland and this beautifully illustrated guidebook provides a social and cultural history of the 32 counties as well as a description of the landscape through which they traveled. . They hoped to educate the British about Ireland as a tourist destination – “to make Ireland better known to England” – while ensuring that the Union of Great Britain and Ireland remains strong. .
The Halls’ observations of Galway and the illustrations by prominent artists that accompanied their writings are explored as part of this year’s Galway Big Reading, an annual event hosted by Galway Public Libraries.
The theme for the 2021 Big Read is Westward Ho: A Ramble through Galway, 1840-1940. Also on the menu is the 1867 book, Lough Corrib, Its Shores and Islands: With Notices of Lough Mask, written by the famous surgeon and antiquarian Sir William Wilde, who built the Moytura Lodge in Cong as a vacation home and, later , as a fishing spot. lodge in Illaunroe near Leenane.
The County of Corrib, by 20th century travel writer and filmmaker Richard Hayward illustrated by J Humbert Craig, published in 1943, is also the subject of discussion. Hayward, who died in 1964, was a prolific travel writer whose other books include Connacht and the City of Galway (1952).
The aim of the Annual Big Read is to promote Galway’s culture through its literary heritage and history, as explained by the organizers, Acting Executive Librarian, Josephine Vahey, and Archivist, Patria McWalter.
Galway’s first Big Reading took place in 2013 as part of the Decade of Commemoration, marking the centenary of Irish independence.
To find out more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
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