The name of "American Stranger" a Key to the People's Hearts

Reader, wonder not that I love the peasantry of Ireland. Imagine yourself in my real condition and state of mind when I entered that house, and then meet the same kind, unmerited, unexpected reception from those for whom you had done nothing, and feel yourself changed into a friend, instead of a stranger and a lodger. We talked and read till a late hour, and then I slept undisturbed.

The reader may be told, if he never heard it whispered, that the Irish as a people have a quantum of leisure on their hands. The cabin housewife has done her morning's toil, when the potato is eaten and the pigs and fowl have been fed; no making of bread, no scouring of brass and silver, no scrubbing of floors, or cleaning of paint, makes her toil heavy; and in a few weeks' travel I found that, when I stopped in a village for the night, and wished to make the most of my visit, nothing was necessary but to call at some cabin, tell them I was an American, and had come to see the poor, and ask them to direct me to a good lodging house. This was electricity itself; all and everything that could be done would be, and by the time the lodging house was found, the fame had reached through the little hamlet, and a levee was on the spot in a few minutes. So in Oranmore; but the good woman of the house, putting on some of her American notions of propriety, insisted that I should not be "gaped to death," and often told them in sober earnest, that they must keep away, unless they had some business to the shop. All was unavailing. Night and day they were squatting about me, admiring my comely dress and comely hair, telling me that my face was young, and many a good day was before me yet; and seldom did they leave, till they made me both young and beautiful, with the best of all appendages added, a heavy purse of money. Here I talked and here I listened, here I read and they listened, and the little village of Oranmore will always be held in pleasant remembrance.

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.


Library Ireland Facebook