The Amethyst Quarries

Asenath Nicholson
Chapter XXVI (9) | Start of Chapter

Government has here made a good road, for the sole purpose of giving strangers, as well as countrymen, the privilege of walking through, and looking upon this grand height, and visiting the diamond quarry of amethysts which have been turned to very profitable account by many foreign travellers. I gathered a few, and while standing there, a native from a village of the same description of that just passed, offered a splendid specimen of the stone for a few shillings, which I foolishly refused, not then knowing its value. I shall not soil Mrs. Hall's pretty sketch of this mountain and sea-view by attempting a description, but refer the reader to the description itself, and return back to the town, as a four mile walk is before us. On our return we meet the old woman of five score, with a load of turf upon her back, which would have done credit to the strength of a woman of sixty. The villagers greeted us heartily, and were anxious to make more inquiries when we passed, and much concerned lest I should be hungry. As we approached the colony, we called at the house of an old Bible-reader, who had been converted from Catholicism more than twenty years ago, and said he had been reading the Scriptures to these mountaineers ever since, and so they were without excuse if they did not know the way of life and salvation. We passed out, and the man who accompanied me disappeared without giving any intimation, to avoid, as I have ever thought, the offer of any reward from me. Such noble disinterested kindness cannot be forgotten. Should the reader be led to think that too much severity is manifested towards such as have been unkind, let him read the multiplied acknowledgments of favors, and then taking into account, that but a small part of the out-of-the-way, uncalled-for rudeness and unkindness which I have received has been recorded, and he may be disposed to give credit for my lenity. Again, those which are recorded have been divested in most cases of their roughest and rudest deformities.

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.