A Jaunting Car Jaunt

Asenath Nicholson
Chapter V (4) | Start of Chapter

We now reached Athy, and happy was I to exchange the tedious maid for a seat on the novel Irish car, with a genteel young lady on one side, going to Kilkenny. The rain commenced, which deprived me of seeing the country as I wished; but troops of ragged urchins, who rushed from the national school, and from every cabin we passed, made up the deficiency. I was sitting alone, and succeeded, unperceived by the driver, in beckoning three of them upon the car. Their ready answers solved all my questions about the country, for what Paddy left out, Micky could supply, and they manifested none of that rudeness which is so often met among city boys. We passed a barren spot of country, but were soon repaid by here and there a rich domain, tenanted by some grasping landlord, who kept the poor about him cringing for a day's work at sixpence or eightpence a day. A Protestant gentleman joined the lady on the other side of the car; he was a talking noviciate, just entered upon his charge. He left in a few miles, and a Roman Catholic clergyman, grave in demeanor, supplied his place. The young lady had the exclusive privilege of both, and my little, civil, and profitable companions left the car at the beautiful town of Castlecomer.

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.