Armed Defence

A couple of girls had kept behind us for some distance, either from modesty or fear of my guide, who flourished his stick at all who passed, if he or she had the audacity to venture the most side-way glance at my ladyship. Hearing their footsteps, he suddenly turned, and, "Where are ye goin'? Go a-head, and not have the boldness to be paradin' along behind the lady, and many's the long day that ye'll ever see her like again." The poor girls had committed no misdemeanor, and passed on abashed, not knowing what the choice thing could be that had dropped among them, requiring such watchful protection.

In vain I begged him to spare the well-intentioned women and children, and let them gratify a curiosity natural to all. It isn't me they'll humbug; they'd stare the life out of ye, before ye'd reach the say." As we approached the shore, my guide pointed to a wretched cabin, saying, "There lives a proud mother, who rair'd a gal of her own sort, who was employed gathering the sea-weed from the rocks all her days. She went to New York, and I called upon her there, and because my broadcloth wasn't so fine as the gentlemen about her, she refused to see me, and went into a chamber to shun me. Ah, and wasn't she sure I should tell of her kin that belonged to her, and the smoky hut where she gathered up her heels!"

Ireland’s Welome to the Stranger is one of the best accounts of Irish social conditions, customs, quirks and habits that you could wish for. The author, Mrs Asenath Nicholson, was an American widow who travelled extensively in Ireland on the eve of the Great Famine and meticulously observed the Irish peasantry at work and play, as well as noting their living conditions and diet. The book is also available from Kindle.