Fellow Travellers

Asenath Nicholson
Chapter IX (11) | Start of Chapter

I felt like leaving home when I left the yard, but in a few minutes walk a new companion accosted me. A traveller with a stick and bundle in his hand saluted me with, "A fine day, ma'am, for walkin', beggin' your pardon; and how far may ye be travellin'?" "To the next town, sir." "And that's the way I'm a goin'; and as ye seem to be a stranger (English, I 'spose), if I can sarve ye any way, shall I take yer basket? Ye seem to be light on the fut, but the way is long before ye." "It may trouble you, sir, as you have a bundle."

"Not at all at all, ma'am. I wish 'twas twice as heavy. I always love to mind strangers, and ye'll see all the Irish so entirely. I'm a gardener, and goin' to Galway to be a steward, and do ye go to Galway, ma'am? I'll carry your basket entirely, ma'am, and get ye a good lodgin' place, sich a nice body as ye seem to be must feel quare among strangers; but ye've nothin' to fear in Ireland. Ye may travel all night, and nobody 'll touch ye, ma'am." I did not believe it then, as I do now, for I had not travelled by night alone, as I have since.

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.