A Poor House

Thursday—Walked away from the town, and unexpectedly made my way to the poor house—everything in order, everything in keeping—a healthy spot, and good fires enlivening the hearths of the old people, which appeared more like luxury than poverty. But the constant complaint of all in these houses, when they can be heard by strangers, is the "thinness of the stirabout, and the want of the tay and tobacco." An old female confined to her bed looked entreatingly upon me, to whom I said, "You are nearly home, ma'am." "O!" she answered, "I have offended God, and what shall I do?" She appeared in great agony of feeling, knew she must soon die, and afraid of the judgment, I pointed her to the blood that cleanseth from all sin. Instantly a woman came behind me, and rudely called out, pulling me at the same time, "Come out of this place," hurrying me on. As soon as we were out of the room, she begged a few pennies, changing her disgusting tone to one of softness and supplication. "Shame!" said I, "that you should rudely draw me away from that pitiful old woman, to beg." Knowing that the inmates are not allowed to ask charity, as they are constantly living upon it, I declined, and asked her how she should dare to take such liberties. This custom of begging is so prevalent, that I can find neither nook nor shade where to be safe, except in the middle of a sermon; they will follow you to the church door, and be on the spot when you come out.

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.