Infant School

In the afternoon looked into a poor cabin. The woman received me kindly, but seemed depressed with poverty, said her husband had had no work for weeks. She had two children in an infant school, one seven and the other five; and though the eldest had been there years, and the youngest months, yet neither of the two could read.[8] Curiosity led me to this infant school; found them eating dinner, with each a huge potatoe in the left hand, and a tin cup of soup, out of which they were supping from the right. This was an additional proof of the habit I had often noticed in the Irish in America, that they always prefer eating the potatoe from the hand as bread, to using a knife and fork. This was a Protestant parochial school; but more Catholics in attendance than Protestants; and the teacher observed that the Bible was daily read; "and I find the children of the Catholics much more ready in the Scriptures than the Protestants, and make me much less trouble in getting their lessons. I cannot account for the fact, but so it is." The circumstance is easily explained. The Scripture which is expounded to them by their spiritual guides, is impressed as being of the most awful importance, and its consequences of the most weighty import; and when they get access to this testimony of God, they are prepared to treat it as such. The Protestant child relishes it no better than a stale piece of bread and butter, which he is often forced to eat as a punishment, when his stomach is already satiated. An intelligent gentleman from Dublin remarked, he was whipped through the Bible by a Protestant uncle when a child, and had hated it ever since.

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.