Hospitality in Death

Asenath Nicholson
Chapter XXVI (20) | Start of Chapter

Reaching the cottage, I was met and welcomed by a man grown grey, and a cripple. But a young wife, just out of her teens, pleasantly invited me into her fairy parlor and ante-room, and then said, "You will have some breakfast—the long walk must have given you an appetite." Brown bread and milk were placed before me, and while partaking it, she told me that three weeks ago, she had buried the best of fathers, at the advanced age of ninety; but his intellectual faculties brightened as his body decayed, especially his religious views; that his hospitality, for which he had ever been celebrated, was manifested at the last dying moment. A friend had entered to see him die. He beckoned his daughter to the bed, and inquired, "What is preparing for dinner? This kind friend has come in to see me die, and something nice must be placed before him." These were his last words. His mantle had fallen upon his daughter. The law of kindness was on her tongue. On my way to town, the peasants so detained me by inquiring about America, and what I thought of Ireland, that I had to make much haste on reaching the hotel, to be in time for the boat at three.

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.