Connemara Hospitality

The storm was increasing, and I could not stop, for the mud cabin was nearly as wet as the road; the poor woman said, "If ye could stay, ye should not go out." After walking a few yards, the wind was more violent and the rain heavier. I turned my back, and strove to ascend a hill in that way. In despair I stood; when looking to my left I saw at a distance a cabin, and a little girl standing at the door. She was gazing at me, as I supposed, from idle curiosity, and, as the last alternative, I hesitatingly turned towards the dreary abode. "Welcome, welcome, stranger, from the stawrm; ye're destroyed. I told the little gal to open the door and stand in it, that ye mightn't think we was shuttin' ye out in the stawrm; we've got a good fire and plenty of turf; and though the cabin is small, and not fittin' for sich a lady as ye, I'll make it better than the mad stawrm without; and I'll soon heave over a pot of potatoes, and get ye a sup of milk, and I wish my wife was here. I'm but a stranger; but here sence Monday." All this passed before I had time to tell my country, pedigree, or business to Ireland. But when he heard all that, he was more anxious still to heap me with kindness. A huge pile of blazing turf soon dried my clothes, and I was sitting "high and dry" by the side of the heels of a stage horse, who was taking his lunch from a pile of straw at the foot of a bed. In an hour the potatoes were ready, and the kind little girl brought me a broken soup-plate with two eggs on it, and a "sup of milk." The eggs I gave to a coachman who had dropped in to exchange horses, and took some salt and my tea-spoon, which I carried in my pocket; and upon a stool by the side of a pot, on which a basket was placed containing the lumpers, I ate my supper with the family and coachman, not only with a cheerful, but a grateful heart.

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.