Our Jolly Priest is no Tetotaller

Asenath Nicholson
Chapter XIV (12) | Start of Chapter

We would not take dinner, and hot water was ordered for whiskey punch, and wine brought on. Now the battle commenced; the jolly priest touched his three-cornered hat, at the same moment drinking my health most heartily, while I in surly contempt turned aside, without nodding to the salute. "Ah! she's disgusted, I know. Well, ma'am, if you'll appoint a day, I will make a party in my barn as big as I did for Mrs. Hall—one hundred and sixty—and you shall see my fine parish. But this fish, ma'am, that we are forced to eat through Lent, this fish, ladies! Why, I kept Lent once, and ate nothing but salt herring, till I was scalt entirely—I was a lump of salt, ladies"—then swallowing a glass of hot punch, "I am sorry you don't know what's good, ladies." This toasting and drinking were kept up till lateness and darkness both urged a departure. We were accompanied to the door by the loquacious priest, and a glass of hot punch for the coachman, who, in answer to my remonstrances, answered with an "Aw, and I shall drive ye the better for wawrmin' my stomach a little." What can be said to coachmen, and laboring men, that will be available, when the "good creature" is presented by the holy hands of the priest or clergyman? We had a safe ride home, though the rain was severe, and the night dark, the road muddy, and the driver's noddle steeped in hot punch. The point was settled on going home, that the day had been a more than interesting one; and if the "well-disciplined parish" of this jolly priest bore any resemblance to the training they had been under, a dinner at the barn would have been one of no ordinary relish.[12]

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.