A Centennarian

Asenath Nicholson
Chapter VIII (13) | Start of Chapter

The next day was the Sabbath, and I inquired for the clean Testament which the good woman had told me, the day previous, had always been kept clean. It was locked in a drawer, and the good woman, after considerable fixing, prepared the key, and produced the tidy-kept book. It certainly spoke well for cleanliness, for a leaf had not been ruffled, nor a page sullied by the wicked finger of man or woman. It had been as securely kept as the Roman Catholic man, in a neighboring parish, told me he kept his—he "tied a string about it." When I had carefully used this treasure, it was locked up again, and I saw it nor its precepts any more, till I left the house.

Among the crowds that returned from early mass, was an old woman of one hundred, quite sprightly, and who never fails of being every morning early sitting on the gallery steps; and as passengers go in, they drop a little into her hand. I found many old people in this town, as well as in all towns I had visited in Ireland; and not in any case had I found one who had lost his faculties.

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.