Beautiful Bay of Bantry

Asenath Nicholson
Chapter XVI (7) | Start of Chapter

We soon left sight of Bantry, for mud retarded not my progress, and we hurried on to the no small amazement of all we met, who in multitudes were going to town for market. But the Bay of Bantry—the bay of all bays, stretched out on our left with its islands, and the rugged rocks on our right, so attracted my notice, that what with gaping on either hand, and looking now and then how to avoid the mud, my gallant John would be far before me. He would often sit down upon a wall, till I was within speaking distance, then giving the wallet a further hitch upon his shoulder, would rise and hasten on, thus not leaving me a moment for rest. At last I contrived to lighten my burden, by taking my huge black muff, which was quite the gaze of men and women, as well as the fright of all the children, in mountain and glen, and drawing it up closely at one end, so that the Irish Testaments that were in it could ride safely, I called to the old man, and begged him to allow me to fasten the muff to his wallet, as the day was getting warm, and it quite impeded my travelling. Hanging at one end, and being large and made of the fur of the black bear of the American forest, it made John an object of still greater interest to the wondering peasantry, who all seemed to be quite acquainted with him. He was born on one of the islands of the bay, and had lived all his days within the sound of its waters. "And what is this, John? and what sort may the cratur be that's hanging at your back?"

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.