MakingIrelandIrish Cover

Making Ireland Irish: Tourism and National Identity since the Irish Civil War (Syracuse University Press, 2008/2009). ISBN-10: 0-8156-3225-8.

Winner 2009 James S. Donnelly Sr. Award for Best Book in History and the Social Sciences, American Conference for Irish Studies

From the dark shadow of civil war to the pastel-painted towns of today, Making Ireland Irish provides a sweeping account of the evolution of the Irish tourist industry over the twentieth century.  Drawing on an extensive array of previously untapped or underused sources, Eric G. E. Zuelow examines how a small group of tourism advocates, inspired by tourist development movements in countries such as France and Spain, worked tirelessly to convince their Irish compatriots that tourism was the secret to Ireland’s success.  Over time, tourism went from being a national joke to a national interest. Men and women from across Irish society joined in, eager to help shape their country and culture for visitors’ eyes.  The result was Ireland as it is depicted today, a land of blue skies, smiling faces, pastel towns, natural beauty, ancient history, and timeless traditions.

With lucid prose and vivid detail, Zuelow explains how careful planning transformed Irish towns and villages from grey and unattractive to bright and inviting, sanitized Irish history to avoid offending Ireland’s largest tourist market, the English, and supplanted traditional rural fairs revolving around muddy animals and featuring sexually suggestive ceremonies with new family friendly festivals and events filling the tourist calendar today. By challenging existing notions that the Irish tourist product is either timeless or the consequence of colonialism, Zuelow demonstrates that the development of tourist imagery and Irish national identity was not the result of a handful of elites or postcolonial legacy, but rather the product of an extended discussion that ultimately involved a broad cross-section of society, both inside and outside Ireland. Tourism, he argues, played a vital role in 'making Ireland Irish.'

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Praise for Making Ireland Irish: Tourism and National Identity since the Irish Civil War:

Making Ireland Irish is a meticulously researched and theoretically informed examination of the role of tourism in shaping national identity in Ireland. [Zuelow] masterfully captures the dialectic between the local and the national constituencies to show how both shaped and were shaped by self-conscious efforts to objectify Irishness for tourist consumption. This innovative work has broad interdisciplinary appeal and will be of great interest to scholars in history, anthropology, political science, and cultural studies.”

—James S. Donnelly Sr. Award Committee
American Conference for Irish Studies

“Provides excellent insight into how Irish tourism policy was developed and who engineered it.”

American Historical Review

“[A] stimulating and challenging study."

Journal of Tourism History

“[Zuelow's] extensive research is indispensible . . . . [A] highly readible analysis.”

Journal of Irish Studies

Advance praise for Making Ireland Irish: Tourism and National Identity since the Irish Civil War:

“An original and fascinating contribution both to the emergent history of tourism in twentieth-century Ireland, and to the negotiation of Irish identities…”

—John Walton, Leeds Metropolitan University, UK

“Tourism was central to Ireland’s frustrated quest for prosperity in the post-partition era.  Charting the fortunes of the sector during peace-time and the war-time ‘Emergency,’ Zuelow shows, through impeccable research and with great theoretical insight, how the promotion of images of Ireland as a holiday-destination, and the pursuit of specific policies and development initiatives, were bound up in fractious international, national and local politics, and in contested efforts to formulate symbols of the Irish nation.  This is a very readable and immensely valuable study of Irish tourism history.”

—Kevin James, University of Guelph, Ontario

“This volume opens a new window on modern Irish history as it charts the planning decisions, the contesting agencies and factions, and crucially, the larger debates about national identity into which tourism planning inevitably led….This is scholarship at its most original and engaging.”

—James Silas Rogers, editor, New Hibernia Review

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Site designed by Eric G.E. Zuelow, 2010