Incursion of a Troop of Connaughtmen into an Inn

Asenath Nicholson
Chapter X (10) | Start of Chapter

When I returned from this cabin, a new era opened. A company of Connaughtmen, in rags and dirt, returning from their potatoe digging in the county of Kilkenny, had turned in hither for the night. They wanted a pot of potatoes; they wanted them cheap, and they wanted them in "good speed." All this could not be accomplished without some bustle, and the good man offered the potatoes for two pence halfpenny a stone. That, they, in plain language, declared they would not pay. This took some time to settle, and ended by their going out and purchasing the article elsewhere. This adjusted, then came the lodging. They must be up at two, to pursue their journey; they must lodge in one room; and this room must be the one occupied by me, as no other was of sufficient length and breadth. I cheerfully relinquished all claim, as I was but a guest, and the floor was spread with et ceteras for the lodgers to lie down. The clamor and clatter which commenced and continued were somewhat peculiar to themselves. I had quietly put my Polka coat upon a chair in the kitchen for a pillow, and with a second chair managed to make myself a bed; and as this bed, like the other, was gratis, I had no right to complain. The peat fire was dimly burning at twelve o'clock, when the master came in, and hearing the tumultuous jabbering, and feeling the house to be shaking to the centre, he ran up stairs, telling them to be off, every blackguard of 'em, as it was two o'clock, and not a minute more should they stop in his house, disgracin' the devil himself. They declared they had paid for lodging till two o'clock, and they had not slept a ha'porth. He drove them up, and they tumbled down stairs to the kitchen. I had placed myself in an upright position, and was in a corner. They, as if by consent, all stopped short in a semicircle about me, and in perfect silence surveyed me attentively, and my condition for a few moments was not an enviable one.

There were nine of these nondescripts, not one of them with a whole garment or a clean face, standing in array. The room was nearly dark, and the master not in it. I seriously thought of my sixpence-half-penny, but before having time to offer it, the good man of the house entered, and poured them out of the house at once. They had the kindness to give the man a timely caution when they were on his steps, for they told him seriously that the stranger in his house was a man in disguise, and that he had come to do some great mischief in the country, and they had not a hap'orth of a doubt but that he had hapes of sovereigns. He added, "Some of the blackguards would not hesitate to take your life, should they meet you alone."

These men certainly are distinct in their appearance from the provinces of Ulster, Munster, or Leinster. Yet I should not feel authorised to say that they are more malicious or dangerous than their neighbors. They are more coarse in appearance and manners; but they do not lack either shrewdness or hospitality. In justice I must say, I have experienced more real kind-ness from these people, than from many of more refined education and fashionable appendages.

Reader, if you are prone to be incredulous; if you are but a nominal Christian; if you know not how to believe in God without doubting; if you cannot trust him with your body as well as your soul; if you are not willing to deny yourself, and never have done it, and if you do not believe in "particular providences," in particular exigencies, you may as well lay down this book,—at least pass over a few succeeding days, for they will appear like fairy tales, and the teller of hem as a silly if not wicked impostor.

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.