Irish Authenticity

The photos within this gallery represent the idealized authentic Irish landscape. These landscapes of Connemara and Killarney are void of any human presence, thus representing a romantic perspective of Ireland, in which the absence of people is part of the pleasure.

Ireland’s landscape is prominently known for the feelings of sublime it provides to those who bear witness to its raw beauty. It evokes an overwhelming sense of awe as the viewer observes its grandeur. In connection to the sublime landscape of Ireland, the unique authenticity of the state as a whole is another significant factor that draws travelers from all areas of the world with the desire to experience the true simplicity of a landscape pure and untouched.  As stated previously above, the picturesque landscapes of Ireland provide a sense of an authentic Ireland seen through a romanticized lens.

However, the presence of sublime landscapes are not the only elements that help portray the image of an idealized, authentic Ireland. Two specific regions in Ireland, Connemara, located in the northwest corner of County Galway, and Killarney, located in County Kerry in the southwest, offer both the sublime beauty of Irish landscape and the image of an ‘authentic’ Irish culture to tourists. As pure depictions of sublime landscapes, both of these regions are known for attracting floods of tourists year-round with their rolling, green hills, quaint villages, and strips of rugged coastline bordering sparkling bodies of water. In addition to representing the romanticized landscapes that portray the authentic, idealized version of Ireland, other elements including the Irish natives themselves, representation of the historical Ireland, traditional craftsmanship, and physical remains of the past all encompass this concept.


Representation of the Historical

Representation of historical Ireland is another key factor that maintains the ideology of Irish authenticity. As a way to promote tourism, the Irish use the authentic Irish ‘image’ to their advantage. At Irish festivals, or large tourist attractions, people will dress up in traditional, Celtic costumes and play traditional folk music to advertise this image and boost tourism as many tourists seek to experience this unique aspect of traditional Irish culture. Furthermore, Connemara is one of the few remaining regions that continues to speak Gaelic. Maintaining the use of this traditional language contributes to the projection of legitimacy. This display preserves the image tourists have of Ireland; as a result, people seeking to experience the “authentic” are attracted to the area.



Another means in which authenticity is promoted to attract tourists is through work. This prominently includes the work area of basic craftsmanship, like knitting. Tourist attraction videos portray this type of work in a pure and wholesome form. For example, hand-made, knit, sweaters are a huge commodity surrounding Irish tourism. The Irish use this to their advantage to attract tourists, seeking to experience the ‘authentic’ Ireland. By promoting this “authentic” image of Ireland through commodified goods, such as these sweaters, it feeds into tourists’ image of Ireland as an organic, authentic place, but especially benefits the Irish economy.

Figure 1: 

For tourists, hand-made sweaters represent an ‘authentic’ aspect of Ireland.





Remains of the Past

Past remains of Ireland continue to actively impact and connect to modern Ireland and its authenticity. The remains showcase the absence of people in locations where there was once an abundance. Ruins represent the loss of life and community; yet, the absence creates the aesthetic of an empty landscape which establishes romanticized authenticity. Travelers come to experience the true authenticity that Ireland claims to possess. Tourists come to the remains to witness the sublime. These ruins force outside observers to acknowledge the hardships and successes of the people who had once inhabited landscape. The ruins are a reminder of Ireland’s history. They make it impossible for travelers or the native people to escape it. They are captivated by them and are subjected to look at that the ruins and become overtaken with their emotions while being present at the remains. They have to face the truth of how they became what they are and the horrible events of the famine that made so many people lose their lives or forced to move away. If there were no remains left it would be harder to confront the historical past of remains and how everyone living a life within the remains vanished.

Figure 2: 

Ruins in Ireland represent the loss of community in Ireland’s history.

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