The Two Convicts

Upon the back seat of the coach were two convicts sentenced to transportation, chained together, with three policemen as a guard. The eldest was a hardened veteran, singing merrily as we proceeded, with roses stuck in his cap. The younger, a youth of about eighteen, was sad, looking as if he was on the verge of bursting into tears. The sight was affecting. Poor boy! he might be fatherless, but have a mother whose heart has doated on him, and who still yearns over him; while, in some unguarded hour, the fatal deed has been done, which severs him not only from her, but from his country for ever; which makes him a disgraced exile, and drives him further into the thick meshes of sin and temptation.

When we arrived at Dublin, in Barrack-street, where the convicts were to exchange carriages, the host of beggars that surrounded us could only be equalled by the throng at Tullamore; and it is a matter of wonder how, at a moment's warning, such a herd of vagrants can be collected. They are like Pharaoh's frogs; they compass the whole length and breadth of the land, and are almost as much to be dreaded as his whole ten plagues; they leave you no room for escape on any hand; dodge where you will, they are on the spot, and the ill-fated stranger needs a fathomless bag, who ventures on a tour among these hunger-armed assailants.

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.