Dr. Barter's Hydropathic Establishment

Asenath Nicholson
Chapter XIV (11) | Start of Chapter

We must and did leave, our priest hurrying home to arrange matters for our reception, while we went to the cold-water establishment kept by Mr. Barter. To describe the apparatus would be impossible. In a circular, well-finished, thatched cottage, are the different douche and shower baths, warm and cold, prepared with the best finish. All manner of pouring and showering, plungings and washings, have here appropriate fixtures. His spacious well-ventilated house for the reception of invalids, does credit to the owner, who told us that one hundred and sixty patients had made the experiment, and every one had been cured, and none but obstinate cases had applied. They are allowed no ardent spirits, tea, or coffee; and flesh meat but once a day. The Doctor appeared to understand his business well, and is apparently a worthy philanthropist. With regret I left this place, wishing for a longer and better acquaintance with the principles of this institution; but night was gathering, and the patience of the old priest would be exhausted. We found him standing by the window of his bed-room, where he said he had stood two hours, till his "heart was scalded," watching our return. And more than all, he had invited one of his curates and the doctor to dine with us, on his fish dinner. They had disappointed him, and everything was wrong. Three women of the peasantry were sitting upon the bed, by the side of a table, regaling themselves with bread, cheese, and whiskey, which the good Father assured us "they liked right well."

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.