One Bright Spot

My acquaintance in life had ever been much among the clergy, and though I had long since known they were not exempt from the frailties of human nature, and that Christ's example was always the safest to follow, yet I had never seen them so little given to hospitality, so uncourteous to strangers, and so outwardly conformed to the maxims of the world, as some I had met in Ireland; and yet I heard many edifying sermons from them.

My prospects brightened a little when I was in the evening introduced into a Methodist family. Every Christian kindness was here shown that could be, and I was conducted to a comfortable room, and told by the "prudent wife" that here was the Christian pilgrim's room, always kept to entertain strangers.

"Here," she added, "you may find a welcome home while in Dingle." Her husband was a coast-guard, a noble Irishman of whom his country might be proud. Three daughters and a son composed this happy family. It was a family well ordered, and one of happy Christian love. Here I stayed, and here I loved to stay; here the morning and evening prayer ascended from hearts kindled by Christian union. Sabbath morning I walked two miles to a poor dwelling, in company with Mrs. J. and her daughter, to meet with an humble few in a little class meeting, and to hear from these poor cabiners, in this remote part of the earth, that same dialect which is spoken wherever the story of Calvary has been told. It was pleasant, it was good to be there. How many times in Ireland have I blessed God that he sent the ever-stirring, warm-hearted Methodists into that island. Their zeal has a redeeming quality in it that few others manifest; it never goes out; the bush, though burning, is never consumed.

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.