Laborers standing in the Market-place

On my return to my lodgings, I saw a company of men assembled in a square, and supposed something new had gathered them; but drawing nearer, found it was a collection of poor countrymen from distant parts, who had come hoping on the morrow to find a little work. Each man had his spade, and all were standing in a waiting posture, in silence, hungry and weary; for many, I was told, had walked fifteen or twenty miles without eating, nor did they expect to eat that day. Sixpence a day was all they could get, and they could not afford food on the Sabbath, when they could not work. Their dress and their desponding looks told too well the tale of their sufferings. When I had passed them, looking about, one was near me, walking slowly, picking a few shreds carelessly in his fingers, his countenance such a finished picture of despair, as said, "It is done; I can do no more." I three times halted, and paused to speak to him, but could not give utterance; as soon as I met his countenance, hunger, wife, children, and despair were so visible, that I turned away, and could only say, "Good God! have mercy on poor Ireland."

When I reached my lodgings, the landlord remarked, that every week the poor creatures are coming in from the country, and often they stay two days without eating, watching and hoping a chance may come; and sleep where they can; and then most of them go away, without getting any work. "Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl."

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.