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Istituto per i Beni Culturali Emilia-Romagna

Memoria e Ricerca

Nature and Nationalism in modern Ireland

di Mary E. Daly
in Memoria e Ricerca n.s. 1 (1998), p. 39

The combined impact of an economic outlook that viewed the rural landscape in terms of its potential to provide employment and a cultural nationalism that was based primarily on language and history, resulted in the absence of a political demand for the creation of national parks or the protection of rural environment in Irish State. Irish natural heritage did not feature prominently in the cultural nationalism that developed during the nineteenth and the early twentieth century. Unlike the United States, irish nationalism made little reference to nature, other than to reiterate that the country’s manifest destiny lay in remaining as a rural, agrarian society, in direct contrast to an urban industrial Britain. Since the Great Famine in 1845, land and nature were also viewed primarily in terms of their capacity to support an increased population. The irish State established only one national park before the 1970s, which was donated to the State. Only in recent years, the possible conflicts between national parks and economic development have come to the fore. This change can be seen as evidence of Ireland’s transformation from a predominantly rural society to a more urbanised society and from an impoverished economy to a country that can afford to devote resources to protecting the natural heritage.