Return to Clifden

Asenath Nicholson
Chapter XXIV (15) | Start of Chapter

My way home was intricate. I found myself entangled in rocks, after crossing the strand, and was a full hour climbing and creeping to get out. I at last found the road, and the village where I stopped the preceding day, and had another meeting. One woman among them had been bred in Galway, and invited me into her cabin, which though dark was cleanly, and remarked that Connemara had greatly improved in the last twenty years. That then their time was spent in the most degrading vicious manner that could be imagined; the can of whiskey was carried from cabin to cabin, and whole days and nights spent in glee and drunkenness; and their persons, their cabins, and their beds so filthy that they were intolerable to all but themselves. I assured her the latter was now the case throughout Ireland, so far as I had travelled; and were it not that they were God's creatures, made in his image, and bound to his tribunal, I would say of many of them, "He that is filthy let him be filthy still," before I would risk my eyes, my nose, or my garments within gallopping distance of their multitudinous disgusting unmentionables. "No hope," she sighed, "for poor Ireland!" Glad was I to see Clifden, having eaten scarcely three ounces of food since I left it.

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.