Departure from New York

Asenath Nicholson
Chapter I

Departure from New YorkThe Author's ParentageFellow PassengersDeath on BoardA good CaptainDeath of a DrunkardArrival at LiverpoolVoyage to Dublin and Arrival at KingstownA Chapter of AccidentsDifficulty of obtaining LodgingsA Morning WalkVisit to a Roman Catholic ClergymanThe Linen HallThe North Union Poor HouseLetters of IntroductionA Strange ReceptionAsylum for Unmarried Ladies

It was in the spring of 1844, May 16th, that I stood upon the deck of the ship Brooklyn, and saw the last spire of New York recede in the distance. It was the home of my childhood—the land where hopes and disappointments had ebbed and flowed; where I had looked out through smiles and tears, till the last earthly tie was severed; and where the last tear was dried on the graves of those most loved. I had no more to shed. It was with a stoical indifference I heard the last farewell, and took the last grasp of the hand of him who asked, "When shall we look for you home?" and then I shut myself into the narrow cabin, which was to be my parlor and bed-room during the voyage, heeding neither wind, nor wave, nor monster of the deep. It was not the rich, the honored, or the happy I was hoping to meet; it was not their salutations or presents I was going to seek for. It was the poor and the outcast. I was about to visit those who in dens and caves of the earth, were "forgotten by their neighbors," and who heard no kinder voices than the whistling of the winds, or the screeching of some desolate owl among the mountains and crags where they had made their habitations.

I was alone. Not a soul in the ship but the captain knew my name, or understood my object, and leaving the command of the vessel to him, and the working of the ropes to the sailors, I betook myself to the opening of my parcels, to ascertain what necessary supplies they contained for mind and body in a voyage like this.

"My boast is not that I deduce my birth,

From loins enthroned, and rulers of the earth;

But higher far my proud pretensions rise,

The child of parents passed into the skies."

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.