Asenath Nicholson
Chapter XXVI (18) | Start of Chapter

I stopped at a hotel in Sligo, stayed twenty-four hours, and saw almost the whole town. Took a morning walk three miles from my lodgings to the most beautiful glen I had met, in some particulars. The peasants were so desirous to talk with me on America, that I was three hours going three miles. An avenue, entered by a gate, leads to the cottage, where lives Mr. Nicholson, the proprietor; supposing it might be the breakfast hour, I sat down on a rustic seat, with the sea at my left and the glen at my right; and hearing the sound of a hammer, I entered the glen, and was accosted by a company of laborers breaking stones. "Good morrow kindly, and ye're takin' the pleasantest walk in all Ireland. There's not sich a glen in all the kingdom; and sure ye didn't come alone. Well! no harm 'ill befal ye here, and the master has all free to everyone here." "You've a good master, I hope; one who pays you well." "And that he does." "What does he give?" "Eightpence a day." "And you eat your own potatoes?" "Yes, we aits our own potatoe, when we git enough of that same." I find in all

Ireland the laboring classes, when I first speak to them, are ever praising their master. Just as in America, although the slaves may be often under the lash or in the stocks, yet to a stranger they durst not speak out, lest some "bird of the air should tell the matter;" so the peasantry of Ireland are in such suffering, that lest they should lose the sixpence or eight-pence they occasionally get while employed, they will make an imperious landlord an angel to a stranger.

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.