Arrival at Kilkenny

Asenath Nicholson
Chapter V (5) | Start of Chapter

We reached Kilkenny, and the young lady left the car without bidding me a cold good-bye. In a moment she returned with the lady of the house, who in a most pleasant manner said, "Come in, you are an American stranger; come in, and take tea with us, and I will send a servant with you to your lodgings." Joyfully I accepted the offer, and found within a well-ordered tastefully-arranged house, and the mistress a highly accomplished widow, who had beeen reared in affluence, educated in the best manner, and was then engaged in teaching. The piano and the harp, the ancient boast of Ireland's better days, were there, and the lady, who had been educated in a convent, knew well how to touch the heart by her melody. Her two little daughters, who were but children, did honor to her who had trained them with a skilful hand. Never had I seen high birth, beauty, and noble intellectual attainments more happily blended with a meek and quiet spirit than in this accomplished woman. Though she was a Roman Catholic, yet the higher class of Protestants were anxious to place their daughters under her care; with this proviso, that a Protestant clergyman should visit there weekly, and give religious instruction; and that each day, when prayers were read in the schoolroom, the Protestant children should retire.

The next day, as I entered the parlor, the young Protestants were passing in, while the Catholics were praying above—a very accommodating arrangement to keep both religions from contamination.

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.