West Port and Castlebar

Asenath Nicholson
Chapter VII (28) | Start of Chapter

A branch of the Garvey family lives near Murrisk Abbey, situated on Clew Bay, at the foot of the Croagh Patrick. The house stands near the sea, embosomed in wood, a garden of three acres, with useful horticultural productions, at the back of it, and the abbey at a little distance. The walls of the abbey are of smooth stone in small blocks; the building contains numerous apartments. A place is reserved for the burying of priests, and a pile of their leg and arm-bones are now in a window to leave room for fresh inmates.

The Irish appear to have no regard for their dead when the flesh is consumed, but leave the bones to bleach in the sun, and the skulls to be kicked about as foot-balls in any place. A return through Westport to Castlebar gave a sight of suffering and degradation which could not be heightened. A coach is always the rallying point for beggars; and this morning the Roman Catholic Dean was upon the top, and I went out to take my seat, but was happy to retreat into a shop, for I supposed that all the inmates of the workhouse were poured out for want of food, and were sent to prey upon the inhabitants. In this dreadful flock there was not one redeeming quality—not one countenance that smiled, nor one voice that uttered a sally of Irish wit—all was piteous entreaty, without deceit; for no proof was needed of sincerity, but the look they gave us. I was urged to my seat through the crowd, and no sight like that had ever met my eyes as when that coach whirled from that haggard assemblage.