Poorhouse Stirabout

Asenath Nicholson
Chapter XXIII (2) | Start of Chapter

The city is three miles in circumference; and but one gate, called the water Gate of St. John's Castle, is now standing of the seventeen which were there in 1760. I found a laboring man near the poor-house, who told me there were 1700 inmates, and "I don't know what to say of the stirabout there they give 'em." "And what, sir, is the matter with the stirabout?" "Why, by dad, ma'am, 'twould give a man waik quawrters to ait it. They say it runs like wawter." This I found was the universal cry of all the beggars throughout Ireland, when told to go to the poor-house. "The stirabout is so waik, that 'twould take the life of ye." My stay in Limerick was too short, though I saw the whole town and its outward curiosities. The people was what I wanted to see. At three I took a car for Ennis, an ancient town going to decay. Clare Castle, standing a little distance from the town, now the abode of soldiers, makes a pretty appearance at the bridge upon the banks of the river. Here too are the remains of a Franciscan monastery, and you are told of a great battle fought here in 1298.

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.