Ride among Turf Baskets

Asenath Nicholson
Chapter XVII (14) | Start of Chapter

While talking with the priest, who directed me to the best lodgings in town in his name, a ragged young man, with a cart and high railing about it, filled with turf baskets, drawn by a miserable looking pony, passed us. This was the time for an onset. My boy had been complaining much that the "night would be heavy on him," and he contrived to make a happy disposal of me for his own benefit. This was done by taking down the railings and fixing the baskets in a kind of circle, so that by sitting on one that was inverted, with my feet in the space, I could be snugly poised. When I reached the cart the driver said, "Ye had a wairy walk, and may be ye'd be kind enough to sit on my humble cart, and ride to town; we've fixed a sait here, will ye get up?"

This was too plain to be misunderstood, and too polite to be rejected: the boy responded, "and may be he'd be willin' to carry the luggage too." "That indeed," said the accommodating man. "Then ye'll not want me, and I can go back." This was done, and well done on their part, and they assisted in adjusting me and my luggage. The boy was paid and turned about, and I, with a new companion, and in somewhat a new mode of travelling, was under favorable auspices for reaching the town.

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.