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«Poor Green Erin»

German Travel Writers’ Narratives on Ireland from Before the 1798 Rising to After the Great Famine- Texts Edited, Translated and Annotated by Eoin Bourke

Eoin Bourke

The area of 19 th -century German travel writing on Ireland has received widespread scholarly attention over the years in treatises in both English and German, but these efforts were directed largely at fellow-scholars and formed part of an academic discourse on travel, interculturality and alterity. This book, on the other hand, is conceived of more as a reader for the general public than as an academic treatise, presents a surprisingly extensive body of comments drawn from German and Austrian sources from between 1783 and 1865 and lets them «talk for themselves». Some of these remarkably empathetic and well-founded eye-witness accounts were translated into English already in the 19 th century by people like Sarah Austin and Sir Lascelles Wraxhall, but the editor has re-translated them to remove varying degrees of antiquatedness of formulation and has added other accounts that were hitherto largely unknown to the non-German-speaking reading public.
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13 Friedrich von Raumer (1835)

Extract

Before the Prussian historian Friedrich von Raumer (1781-1873) travelled to Ireland on 19 August 1835 he had already studied the question of Catholic Emancipation in great detail. While in London throughout the summer of that year he had followed Parliamentary debates on the question of tithes, schooling, crime, the Poor Law and Repeal of the Union very closely and repeatedly quotes Hansard on earlier debates in his letters from London. His reception of these debates can be followed in Sarah Austen’s 1836 translation of Raumer’s letters [Austen 1836]. But as we wish to present actual eye- witness accounts of Ireland, let it suffice to quote from Raumer’s comments on Catholic Emancipation, William of Orange, the Cromwellian confiscations of Catholic-owned property, the tithe system and the “demagogue” Daniel O’Connell, to give some impression of his thinking before he set foot in Ireland. Raumer, though a Protestant, is very critical of England’s tardiness in granting Catholic Emancipation and compares England to Prussia in their respective handling of religious differences, very much to the detriment of the former. From London he reports on a conversation with an English gentleman: 13.1 England and Prussia Yesterday I breakfasted with Mrs. A. When the conversation touched upon the conditions in Ireland, a gentleman said that it was only through military despotism that Prussia could rule quietly and undisturbed over Catholics. I replied that as long as Prussia had existed, no sword had ever been drawn against a single Catholic; on the contrary, they were won over...

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