Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
Irish district, signifying greater accessibility, com-
fort and a clear break with the traditional stan-
dard of Irish hotel accommodation. Indeed, in
the narrative of Donegal's improvement, the
district's wild and uncivilized reputation was sig-
nalled by the fact that before the hotel's erec-
tion, the best-known local site was the place
where the third Earl of Letrim had been assas-
sinated in 1878.
By displacing this gruesome imagery of the
Rosapenna tour, which evoked Ireland's reputa-
tion for perennial unrest, the marketing of the
district as Ireland's 'Norway' suggested that rug-
ged scenery could now co-exist with luxurious
tourist amenities. George Milner (1900, p. 111),
writing of travels in Donegal, declared that: 'I
have said that Rosapenna Hotel was made in
Norway. Its resemblance to the inns of that
country is so close that I often thought myself
travelling again in 'Gamle Norge.' It is con-
structed entirely of polished pine wood, and is
exquisitely clean.' This hotel and other comfort-
able, if less luxurious hotels at which he stayed
elsewhere in the county, led Milner to declare
that 'English people need not now be afraid of
travelling in North-western Donegal'. Yet, as
with the Irish Rhine, the use of the Norway
place-label also attracted criticism. Alfred Yock-
ney, editor of the Art Journal , likened the adop-
tion of the 'Norway in Ireland' moniker to
cloaking Rosapenna's scenery in disguise:
Donegal of the necessary material, a quantity
of timber was shipped across the North Sea.
Already there was a fjorded coast, and 'Norway
in Ireland' was the sequel. There was some
excuse for this parallel on other than scenic
grounds . . . Still, whoever christened Ros-
apenna with a Scandinavian attribute was
guilty of wasteful and ridiculous excess which,
the play tells us, attends the painting of the lily,
or the perfuming of the violet. Viking blood
may be necessary to animate the fi sheries, but
splendid natural resources give the Mulroy
district a reputation of its own. It needs no
imported character, no disguise.
( Art Journal , 1907, p. 1)
Although Yockney described this rhetorical
strategy of framing scenery with reference to
foreign places as a 'vice among tourists', he was
no doubt conscious that it was the outgrowth of
a programmatic branding campaign by the
Leitrim estate. It prefi gured the tourist's encoun-
ter with Norwegian architecture, and Norwe-
gian hospitality, on offer at Rosapenna, and
made the Rosapenna Hotel a key marker for
Donegal's fl edgling, modern tourist sector.
While this was part of an effort to reconstruct
the image of 'dark Donegal' for the British
tourist market, discussions within tourist-
development circles frequently invoked Switzer-
land as the pre-eminent example of successful
'tourist development'.
There is a vice among tourists which irritates
the placid traveller. Looking over his neigh-
bour's territory, the lesser passer-by will deny
the singularity of the scenery spread out before
him. It suggests some choice spot in his own
country, or, worse still, a 'bit' in the landscape
of the people next nation but one away. It is
sometimes patriotism and pedantry which
prompts such observations, but more often it is
merely the bad habit of comparison. Thus in
Ireland visitors and guide books refer to Palestine,
North Wales, Switzerland, Holland, Madeira.
Here is Paris, there Bruges, and, of course,
Paradise and Arcadia are dragged in . . . The
Midland Railway, not to be outdone by the
claim for Cornwall by the Great Western, have
invented a Northern Riviera in Antrim. Near
Carrigart, through which the stranger passes on
arrival by land or sea, is the Rosapenna Hotel,
well-equipped, commodious and famous as a
resort for golfers and anglers. To build it in
foreign style, and to emphasize the lack in
'Our Friends, the Enemy':
Swiss Tourism through an Irish Lens
Though the Irish Tourist and many guidebooks
made reference to 'Alpine Ireland', with Wick-
low, Donegal, the lakes and fjords of Kerry
(1 [June 1894], p. 13), and the area around
Glencar ( Irish Tourist 2 ['New Series', 1895],
p. 4), variously described as the 'Switzerland of
Ireland', the most frequent reference to Switzer-
land within tourist discourses did not involve the
projection of Swiss tourist-destination imagery
onto the imagination of prospective tourists to
Ireland, but appraisals of Swiss and Irish tourist
infrastructures - with the Alpine country lauded
as an example for Ireland. Popular images of
Switzerland as a prosperous rural country that
had maintained its rustic charms, while devel-
oping a modern tourist infrastructure, were
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