Written by the Scottish writer Leitch Ritchie, and published in 1838, Ireland Picturesque and Romantic is a welcome addition to the collection of travelogues on Ireland. Accompanied by several high quality engravings, from drawings by D. McClise and T. Creswick, this volume is an attempt to "render as complete a picture as possible of the country and its inhabitants". To further this aim this Ritchie does not shy away from political commentary. Which is how he begins the book, with a discussion on the condition of the people of Ireland, and how hunger is the driving force behind most of their actions. Drawing on his extensive travels and knowledge of other countries, Ritchie is able to draw comparisons with the condition of the peoples and how the struggled to better themselves. The travel part of the books begins north of Dublin, travelling through Drogheda, Dundalk and Newry Continuing his travels across the northern counties, Ritchie then makes his way down the through the western counties to the midlands and then back to the coastal counties again and to the South of the country. All the time we get Ritchie's keen observations on both the landscape and the people, as well as his insights in to the political system in Ireland, as well as the necessity for an individual and unique Irish poor relief scheme. Overall this is an important addition to the collection of Irish travel writings. Ritchie's experience, insights, knowledge and understanding give this particular travelogue its own unique flavour and a must have for anyone interested in Ireland in the years just prior to the famine.
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