Dread of Heretical Books

Asenath Nicholson
Chapter XVIII (3) | Start of Chapter

At ten I returned, the hour that the laborers breakfast; and the family finished at eleven. So late are the Irish about rising in the morning, that the best part of the day is often lost. I sauntered through the town, and here Glengariff scenes were acted over by a mob of boys, women, and girls, with cloaks over head, some in pursuit, and others running before, and then stopping to have a full gaze. So much had I heard of the beauties of Killarney, that I was quite disappointed in the refinement of the people. A boy accompanied me to the Victoria Hotel, situated on the bank of the lower lake, a mile from town. In summer this is well filled with company from various parts of the world to visit these enchanting lakes. I was quite annoyed by a boy asking for books. I gave him a copy of the Douay gospels, and he went away pleased; in an hour he was running after me, crying, "This is a Protestant book, and I won't have it." Telling him what it was, and, asking why he was so afraid of it, he answered, "I would rather have my own religion, and should not like to take a Protestant book;" he took it a second time, and at evening came running, and rudely thrust it into my hand, saying, "I know this is a Protestant book, and I will not have it." The boy seemed grieved, that, as he supposed, I had deceived him. He had carried the book to his mother, and she had told him it was one of the Protestant tracts that had been distributed there to injure Romanism. A little girl of twelve stood listening, and said, "Madam, will you let me have the book? You shouldn't be giving your books to every scrawl in the street." Fearing, notwithstanding her judicious caution, she might be a "scrawl," I declined, telling her to go home and think of it, and if she continued to want one, to call at my lodgings Sabbath evening at six o'clock, and she should have one. "'Tis the Word of God I want, ma'am."

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.