Dinis Island

Asenath Nicholson
Chapter XXI (17) | Start of Chapter

My seven miles' morning walk was but just commenced, when a rosy faced girl of fourteen, with her apron across her arm, containing a few groceries, saluted me. "Good morrow kindly, ma'am, and ye've not been to Dinis Island; it's but a mile down the walk under yer fut, and the road to Killarney is a long five miles. Will ye turn in, and I will show ye the cottage?" I had met this pretty Kerry girl before, near the same place, who had urged me to see this island, and her sweet face and kind manner now prevailed. She had walked nine miles that morning, and her pretty foot was not soiled, nor, as she told me, was her leg weary, though she was much concerned for mine. A winding path through a beautiful wood took us to Dinis cottage, where the family were breakfasting on bread and tea—the bread of the woman's own making, which was not only a rarity, but a delicious treat. They had lived sometime in North America, consequently treated me kindly. The children had clean faces, well-combed hair, tidy apparel, and the cottage bore the marks of the industrious house-keeper. They were Protestants. The mother was teaching her children, as they had no school on the island. But sorry am I to say, that in no family had I heard so much profanity, both from mother and children. I would not expose it; but no one could stay in the house many hours and not hear it, and such sins should be rebuked before all.

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.