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.
In addition to period travel writing, this work draws upon recent scholarship in the fields of tourism and travel studies to produce the first investigation of the history of the initial century of Irish tourism.