An Americanized Irishman

Asenath Nicholson
Chapter XX

An Americanized IrishmanArmed DefenceModern MermaidsIsland of ValentiaEmployment and a good LandlordConversible Coast GuardA Child's Mute AppealPoverty and Low RentsRidiculous Old CustomDerrynaneO'Connell's LibraryCold ComfortHospitable Port in a StormLighthearted BurdenbearersKerry Dancing and Kerry Kindness

Monday.—My walk this morning was intended to be to the island of Valentia, and fortunately a man called who was going to the place; he had been in America, and, as he said, "come back because he was a fool," and was now so poor he could not return. He had lived in Vermont, and found them "so hospitable, so nate, and so well-fed, that he could never be content in Ireland again, feedin' on the potatoe;" neither could he again ever endure the "boorish manners of the blackguard Irish among the black mountains. Don't they kill you, followin' you about, and starin' at you?" As he spoke, out poured from a smoky cabin seven ill-looking lads and lasses, with most of them an arm over the eyes, the better to take observation. But the poor things had but just prepared to take a sure aim, when my care-taking guide pounced upon them with his uplifted stick, threatening unsparing vengeance if every "dirty scrawl" didn't that instant go into the house. They fled like frighted sheep over a wall, and never looked back upon us till secured in the door of the cabin, where, joined by the mother, they could take a survey in spite of threats and sticks. "And you're the mother that rair'd the blackguards, and your smoky cap tells that you're fitted to the work."

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.