Kohl: Travels In Ireland

Pdf Kohl, J.G., Travels In Ireland, London: Bruce And Wyld, 1884
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Travels In Ireland is a travelogue written by Johann George Kohl (1808-1878) a German travel writer, historian and geographer. It was published in 1844 and gives a picture of Ireland immediately prior to the calamity of the Great Famine (1845-1852) which saw approximately a million Irish die and a million more emigrate. Kohl describes the geography and scenic beauty of the country as well as its society, economy and politics.

Kohl travelled through the length and breadth of Ireland visiting the four provinces including Dublin , Limerick, Waterford and Belfast . At the time the country was dominated Protestant landowning nobility while the majority of the Catholic population were impoverished peasants. Catholic emancipation had been implement only as recently as 1829 and the nationalist leader Daniel O'Connell was campaigning for repeal of the Act of Union 1800.

England was in rivalry with the other European powers and therefore as a biased German, Kohl is highly critical of British administration in Ireland and sympathetic to the Irish. The book refers constantly to the poverty of the ordinary people, social injustices and the wretched conditions in workhouses.

Kohl, who demonstrates a deep knowledge of Irish history and culture, was impressed by the Georgian architecture of Dublin , the Belfast linen industry, the lakes of Killarney, the monastic ruins of Glendalough, steeple-chasing in Kilkenny, ballad singing and much more. Every facet of Irish life is covered by the author. His account of peasant life, with their enthusiasm for music, folklore, entertainment and fun contrasted with their misery and poverty, is poignant in the context of the calamity of the Great Famine which was soon to ravage the countryside.

Johann George Kohl was born in Bremen in 1808 and was the son a wine merchant. He studied law in Göttingen, Heidelberg and Munich . His father's death in 1830 forced him to give up his studies and become a tutor. He later travelled to Russia before returning in 1838 and settling in the city of Dresden . From there he travelled through Europe and made a career writing about his adventures.

Kohl wrote Der Verkehr und die Ansiedlungen der Menschen in ihrer Abhängigkeit von der Gestalt der Erdoberfläche (Transportation and settlement of people and their dependence on surface terrain). He theorised how future cities would developing predicting high rise buildings, shopping malls and highly organized transport systems.

In the 1850s Kohl travelled to the United States where he produced maps for the United States Coast Survey. He also met literary figures such as Washington Irving and scholars such as George Bancroft. He returned to Germany in 1860s and became the city librarian in Bremen . Kohl died in 1878.

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