American Courtesy to Females not universal in Ireland

Asenath Nicholson
Chapter IV (5) | Start of Chapter

The time of departure arrived, and a second subject was discussed. The rector had said an hour or two before, "You will find that the habits of our country differ widely from yours, in regard to the attention paid to females by the gentlemen. While the gentlemen there are sometimes over attentive, they are here often neglectful, if not uncivil." I regretted to hear this, for though I had come determined to meet all and everything as unfeelingly as possible, yet my education had taught me to believe that the attentions paid to females should spring from their dependence; and this dependence is generally greater in age than in youth. It is much to be lamented if Irish mothers have not instructed their young sons, that to suffer a female, especially an aged one, to go out at night alone, to climb into a carriage without assistance, or to stand up in church while men are sitting, is unkind, uncourteous, and highly reprehensible.

Pardon this digression. We had on our bonnets and shawls to go out, and the kind rector had his staff and hat in hand to accompany us. "We cannot allow you," said a young lady, "to take all this trouble; we can very well go alone." "No female whom I have invited to my parlor or table shall go out of my house unprotected on a dark evening." "Amen!" responded my heart, for I could not see how any man could do less, and be a man still; but the uneasiness that the ladies manifested, plainly told that they had not been accustomed to such attentions.

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.