16 The Lie of the Land: Reflections on Irish Nature and Landscape

In Jeff Malpas (ed.), The Place of Landscape: Concepts, Contexts, Studies. MIT Press. pp. 295 (2011)
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Abstract

This chapter explains how an Irish documentary program presenting the vistas of Derreen, County Kerry recalls the aesthetics of the sublime, which is described by Edmund Burke as a sense of awed exhilaration. However, the program’s aim is to remind viewers that this landscape must be regarded as an alien insult, since Derreen was part of the land acquired by Sir William Petty, a significant beneficiary of the Cromwellian confiscation of Ireland. Petty’s descendants, earls of Shelburne and marquises of Lansdowne, presided over centuries of hardship, emigration, and famine as a product of the “Anglo-Saxon mindset.” This was reinforced by a new scientific spirit that treated land as a commodity to be appropriated, mapped, secured, and exploited for immediate profit.

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