Start for another Tour

Asenath Nicholson
Chapter XII

Start for another TourHow to carry a heavy Load with little TroubleA formidable Animal in the CaravanVisit to a Poor Cabin, Half-a-crown earned in Three MonthsAttentive AuditoryWretched condition of a Sick WomanThe bright Old Man of the MountainSabbath Hymn, and the Company collected therebyThe Scholar with his IliadVisit to Wicklow LighthousesWexfordInfant SchoolA tolerant Catholic

Jan. 9, 1845.—A pleasant stay of four weeks in Dublin made a journey around the coast, which I had resolved to take, look a little formidable, as it was in the depth of winter; but the work was before me, and difficulties must be surmounted.

I had become sufficiently acquainted with the peasantry of Ireland, to know how to gain access; and had resolved that this access should be made an avenue if possible to do them good. They were not in general so ignorant nor so bigoted as I had supposed; many of the children had access to some kind of instruction in most parishes I visited. I found that money, as a reward for any little favor (except among the guides), was refused, and I resolved to give them books, as well as to read among them as I had previously done. The preface of this work informs the reader how these books were furnished. A good selection of tracts on practical piety, school books, and English and Irish Testaments, made up the catalogue.

I will mention the manner of carrying these books, because it proved to me so convenient; and if any other persons should ever climb the mountains and penetrate the glens as I did, they may find it expedient also. I carried no trunk, but a basket; had two pockets in which the tracts were put; and upon a strong cord fastened two bags, into which I put the Testaments, and appended this cord about me, under a Polka coat. When on a coach or car, these did not incommode me; and when I stopped at a town, to visit upon the adjacent mountains, I took from a bag what was required, put them in my basket, and went out, always minding to carry a Testament in my hand, which every peasant walking with me would ask me to read.

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.