German Travel Writers’ Narratives on Ireland from Before the 1798 Rising to After the Great Famine- Texts Edited, Translated and Annotated by Eoin Bourke
23 Franz Arnold Cöllen (1847)
Franz Cöllen (1830-1860) travelled to Ireland at the age of 17 while the Great Famine was taking its toll. His report is incidental to his main purpose, which was to journey to Cork with the intention of boarding a transatlantic steamer there. His account is therefore very short, describing the simultaneity of ele- gance and unimaginable squalor, of luxury and starvation in the summer of 1845. Andreas Oehlke has remarked on the contrast between the scenes of misery and the plenteous spread of the table d’hôte in the Adelaide Hotel, Cork, only a few lines later, saying that the author does not seem conscious of its irony and that as a result there is little evidence of genuine sympathy or even of his being deeply struck by what he saw [Oehlke 1992, 99]. Be that as it may, Cöllen’s seemingly callous account, preceded by the depiction of the Dublin of splendid townhouses and gentlemen’s clubs, does serve to bear out Cecil Woodham-Smith’s pointed statement that “the Irish people starved and died in one world, the landowning classes inhabited another.” [Woodham- Smith 1980, 299] 23.1 Famine amidst wealth Dublin is a very beautiful, regularly laid out city. On the whole the streets are broad and well paved. Sackville Street is the broadest and finest street in all of Great Britain; on both sides are most splendid shops, and in the middle of the street there is the Post Office, a lovely building facing a bronze monument. At the...
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