Honesty and kindness of the poor Irish Peasantry

Asenath Nicholson
Chapter XI (8) | Start of Chapter

Another most important object was attained by my travelling as I did. The Irish, their enemies would have it, are murderers; they will kill a person for a few shillings. I was days and weeks in the wildest parts, certainly much better attired than they were, often with a small locket about my neck, which they supposed was a watch. They knew I had crossed the Atlantic, they knew I was alone, and they did not suppose, till I told them, but that I had money in abundance; and for the most of the time I was wholly in their power. Why did they not use this power? Why, on some lone mountain, three and five miles from any cabin, did they not leave my bones to bleach there? Or why did not some dark glen cover the stranger for ever from the ken of man! I learned, too, the true nature of their hospitality, and proved to a demonstration that it was not feigned; for invariably when I told them I could not reward them for their potatoe or lodgings, "And didn't ye crass the ocean to see the poor? Ye may stay as long as ye will."

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.