Eager Listeners

Asenath Nicholson
Chapter XXV (3) | Start of Chapter

Sabbath.—I spent five hours reading by the side of her bed, and was surrounded with a roomful of the most attentive hearers, in great admiration—so much so, it was often difficult to proceed. I read a tract on the operation of the Holy Spirit upon the heart, and an aged man sitting by exclaimed, "Blessed Jesus, who ever haird the like! I'm an ould man, and never before knew rightly what was the meaning of the Holy Ghost. Did ye ever?" he said to the listeners. "No, no," was the united answer. The chapel bell was sounding every hour, when one said, "We hav'n't been to mass this mornin'." "And hav'n't we haird more than we should there? The like of this raidin' we shouldn't hear in many a day's walk." I was obliged to close, five hours of constant reading and talking affected my voice, and I could only commend them to God, and say adieu for ever. As they lingered, blessing and thanking me, one said, "Aw, no mass was ever like this, I could be listenin' till the mornin'." These people are asking to be fed, and their ears are open to instruction; but the little facility of reading which the adults possess puts it out of their power to attain much information, and their extreme poverty prevents their giving an advanced education to their children.

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.