Bay of Ross by Moonlight

Asenath Nicholson
Chapter XIX (2) | Start of Chapter

The clouds had dispersed, and the young moon was looking from as pure a sky as was ever spread out over this misty isle of the sea. The Bay of Ross, with all its witchery, arose in view. A little mountain girl had met me from a foot-path that led among the rocks, and as we suddenly made a turn, which opened the bay unexpectedly, "and ye'll have as fine a bay, ma'am, in yer eye as in all the kingdom," fell on my ear. I stopped suddenly, and on either hand

"Bold and craggy rose each mountain form,

The girl, seeing my admiration, triumphantly added, "and did ye see the like in all your travels, ma'am? I must leave ye, lady, for my way lies up the mountain a bit, and ye'll not be lonely, for the moon looks bright, and the road is now aisy to the fut. Good night, and God speed ye on yer journey, and return ye safe to yer own country."

Through all this I had stood on the margin of that bay, looking up the heathy crags, then upon the placid sea, that was here and there reflecting the rays of the moon, then deep shaded by some cliff that looked down upon it, sheltering some fisherman's mud-wall hut at its foot. I uttered not a word, till the "good night" of the Kerry-girl awaked me from the reverie. Her light foot stole quickly away, and I was standing alone, for my carmen were jabbering far out of sight. Taking my cruel boots from my blistered feet, I hurried on till the voice of one of my fellow-travellers bawled out, "and sure ye aint a gazin' at these black mountains, it's the pratee and the night's sleep I am thinkin' on." Again I sat down upon a stone, put on my boots, and determined to make a "virtue of necessity," endeavored, as I followed the cart, to forget my pains by singing. This, to my wonder, drew upon the hill sides and path, groups of all ages, where I had scarcely noticed a cabin, giving me a moonlight view of mountaineers and fishermen, who followed me with good wishes, and comforted my spirits by telling me of the "short bit" that was "under my fut," and the "dacent people" I should find at the lodging. My Kerry guide had intentionally passed the stage-house, and stopping to rest his horse at the top of a hill, pointed around, saying, "at your left a short bit and ye'll see the lodgin'."

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.