A voyage into Catholicism: Irish travel to Italy in the nineteenth century
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O’Connor, Anne. (2016). A voyage into Catholicism: Irish travel to Italy in the nineteenth century. Studies in Travel Writing, 20(2), 149-161. doi: 10.1080/13645145.2016.1170655
The analysis of travel writing and Italy has often focused on the beauty, the history and the heritage of the country; this essay argues that religion was a key element in depictions of the country and that this was especially the case for Irish writers. Italy was a conflictual site for Irish religious debates in the nineteenth century and narratives of Italian travel developed against the background of Irish sectarian religious tensions in this era. This article shows how the Irish accounts of travel to Italy divided along religious lines and how it is crucial to understand Irish travel in the light of the tense religious dynamic of the period. Travel to Italy represented a divergent and influential experience of Catholicism for Irish travellers and Irish travel writing in the nineteenth century accommodated both anti-Catholic views and an emerging counter-narrative penned by indignant Catholic clerical writers.