The Duality of Irish Authenticity

“If beauty is to have any role at all, it must co-exist with something else to give it meaning.”

  • – Hugh McElveen

Western Ireland is known for having some of the most breathtaking and visually engaging landscapes. The landscapes are known for drawing travelers from all corners of the world, whether it is people who desire to experience the true authenticity of the Irish culture, or those in search of the sublime landscape that Ireland is known for. Advertisements enticing consumers to travel to Ireland display exaggerated notions of the landscape. How did tourism reach this point?

Here, we will focus directly on two distinct locations in Western Ireland: Connemara and Killarney, both of which are known for their rustic, authentic portrayal of the Irish culture and landscape. These two specific case studies serve as examples of the commodification of the Irish landscape, people, and culture.

Irish tourism is rooted in a history of colonial oppression, and has since become a source of Irish agency. Ultimately, the industry has emerged as a crucial source of national income and allows for greater autonomy. As tourism has evolved over time, Irish authenticity has come into question.

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