Difficulty of obtaining Lodgings

Asenath Nicholson
Chapter I (10) | Start of Chapter

Dublin was the next encounter, and a lodging-place the first concern. A gentleman in Liverpool had given me the name of a respectable lady, but her rooms were occupied. But learning that I was an American stranger, and recommended by a friend, she managed so as to deposit me comfortably till I could do better. For a moment all was as I wished; the modest unpretending looks of the lady, and the unostentatious appearance of comfort, promised a pleasant resting-place from the storms I had just left.

Not so. "It is the little foxes that spoil the vines." Trifles are the busy ants that are constantly building our molehills of evil and good, showing what and how we are in the true light. They are the polar-star that guides us, and the thermometer by which the daily temperature may be well ascertained.

The brother, who was master of the house, came in to his dinner, and set all adrift. "She must go to a hotel; if she has come to visit Ireland, she will want such attendance as we cannot give." In vain the kind sister expostulated, begging him to read my good letters of introduction. "She must go to a hotel," was the alpha and omega; and when the good woman with a sorrowful face brought the message, my disappointment placed the whole account to the uncompromising disposition of unfeeling old bachelors.

The "attendance I should want" was afterwards ludicrously illustrated, oftentimes, in Connaught and the wild mountains of the coast; when I found myself sitting in company with a ragged family, around a basket of potatoes, taking the "lumper" from my hand.

"What will you do? will you step across the way, where lodgers are accommodated, and take my name?" I do so, and here found single blessedness exemplified in two maiden ladies; and when the stern unyielding negative was given, "Surely," thought I, "Dublin must be the deposit where all haters of matrimony resort, to vent their spleen against 'upstart married ladies,' and 'saucy dirty urchins.'"

Night was approaching, my luggage a mile and a half from me, and it was Saturday; the kind stranger, who sympathized so deeply at the misfortune of the pocket-book, had called to accompany me to the packet, with a car to procure our luggage, but I had no home but the street, and where could I take it?

A servant that moment entered and said, "A house not far distant can give you a room." I went, and was received; the happy kind woman was thus opportunely relieved from the dread of "offending God," by displeasing her brother.

The kind lady procured a car, and accompanied me to the packet, much fearing that I should doubt Irish hospitality, though she had fed me when I first entered the house. She then returned to the door of my new lodgings, to see that all was safe, and bade me a kind good night.

My room was a back parlor on the first floor, rather gloomy; all the arrangements were different from my own home, and it was the first night in Ireland. My head was pillowed, but my brain took liberties which it never has ventured upon since; for when it had thrown off the scum occasioned by the first day's fermentation, the pool became quiescent.

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.