St. Patrick's Well

I went alone to the St. Patrick's well, and was directed as many different ways as I found Paddys to point me. At length two fine boys left their sport, and conducted me back over a wall, and showed me the winding path through shady trees, down a declivity to the dark solitude where the sacred well was sparkling. Soft and pure was this water, like most that I found throughout Ireland.

Two aqueducts conduct it underground a little distance; it then forms a rill. A stone cross stands near for the benefit of pilgrims, and a decayed church whose mutilated altar, with its rude inscription, carried you back for centuries, to the time when the Irish Roman Catholic Church was in her glory.

Everything about this frequented spot is calculated to fill the mind with a chastened if not religious awe. The dark wood behind the old stone church, the rippling of the little brook, the ancient stone cross, the seclusion of the spot chosen for a place of worship, the lateness of the hour, my distance from the land of my fathers, and the thought that this is the green spot in the ocean, where have figured and still live a people unlike all others, filled my mind with painful, pleasant, and romantic ideas. But I must now leave this sacred dell, and though neither snake or lizard could coil about my feet, yet it was sunset; and ascending the serpentine path, I reluctantly left the enchanting spot.

Read "Ireland's Welcome to the Stranger" at your leisure

Ireland's Welcome to the Stranger

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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.