The Aged Nun

The next morning at eight, he invited me to the chapel, to see an aged nun renew her vow, who had fifty years been teaching the poor, and had never been out of that convent. She approached the grating which separated the room from the chapel, with her black robe and veil upon her head, while the meek man congratulated her on her long faithfulness in laboring for the poor, and pointing her to the reward in heaven which he trusted was in store for her, gave her the thanks of the convent, and pronounced his benediction. He spoke of crowning her, a ceremony usual on such occasions, but she refused the honor. She then renewed her vow in an audible but softened manner, promised to be faithful unto death, &c. The ceremonies closed, I then accompanied Father Mathew to the convent, where I had been invited to breakfast with him. The breakfast was the first I had seen in American style in Ireland, and though their beef-steak, coffee, and other etceteras I declined, yet good cream, the best of bread, and jam, made a palatable repast. The nuns sat by the table, but did not eat, and were surprised and distressed at my abstinence. I was here introduced to the nun who had renewed her vow; and when she told me she was eighty-four, and not a furrow had old Time made in her plump placid face, I was compelled to take her word for it, for there was no other testimony. Father Mathew sent his man to show me the way to the Independent church, telling him to go in, and introduce me to the sexton.

Read "Ireland's Welcome to the Stranger" at your leisure

Ireland's Welcome to the Stranger

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This book cannot be recommended highly enough to those interested in Irish social history. The author, Mrs Asenath Nicholson, travelled from her native America to assess the condition of the poor in Ireland during the mid 1840s. Her journey took her through the counties of Dublin, Wicklow, Wexford, Tipperary, Cork, Galway, Mayo, Sligo, Cork, Kerry, as well as parts of King's County (now Offaly) and Queen's County (now Laois).

The text of this new edition has professionally been reset and an index added to the paperback.