In A Star Called Henry, Booker prize-winner Roddy Doyle’s 1999 novel, one of the characters castigates Irish nationalists in the following terms:
They hated anyone or anything from Dublin. Dublin was too close to England; it was where orders and cruelty came from [...]. Ireland was everywhere west of Dublin, the real people were west, west, west, as far west as possible, on the islands, the rocks, off the islands, speaking Irish and eating wool.
This essay focuses on depictions of the west of Ireland not among Irish nationalists but in the writings of French travellers throughout the long nineteenth century, a period bookended by two revolutions: the French Revolution and the First World War.
French travel writing on Ireland developed especially from the early modern period of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries onwards. However, it was arguably in the nineteenth century that it reached its apogee. Out of ...