A Blind Fiddler

An old grey-haired blind fiddler now entered the boat. This gave a new and interesting turn to the scene. All eyes were intent, and all ready to sit closer, and huddle away baggage, to make a "dacent sate" for the fiddler. The old woman resumed her position at my side, and the blind man took the fiddle from his green bag, and played a melancholy air of true ancient Irish. He was a good performer, and though he played some lively airs, yet to me he seemed not to be at home, but gave them because he must. That meek subdued look, which always sits on the face of the blind, was emphatically his; old, and trembling with age, he commanded veneration, while his blindness awoke both the pity and benevolence of the passengers. They gladly responded to the call of a youth, who said, "If you plase, old man, hand out your plate; 'tis time for a collection." The fiddler drew from his thread-bare vest pocket a little tin plate, which the young man passed about, and a few shillings were put into the hands of the thankful musician, who was then set on shore to make his way to an appointment for the evening. These blind fiddlers are somewhat numerous, especially in the south of Ireland, and are treated with great humanity by all classes.

The Liverpool girl, who seemed a little composed while the fiddler was performing, now reminded us that the predominant wish had not yet died, for she remarked, "The sixpences were so plenty here for the fiddler, I should think you might give me back mine that the captain took from me."

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

Ireland's Welcome to the Stranger

Read Ireland's Welcome to the Stranger at your leisure and help support this free Irish library.

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.