Temperance Tea Party

Asenath Nicholson
Chapter XIV (3) | Start of Chapter

The next evening a temperance meeting was held in a neatly decorated room, prepared by the poor fishwomen, who were tetotalers. "You must go," said Father Mathew, "as you wish to see the poor. These women, five years ago, were the greatest nuisances in Cork; but they took the pledge, and not one has broken it."

I went. The rich, too, were there; they had been invited because it was the poor who had made the feast.

The room was crowded; tea was prepared, and the meeting was opened by three cheers for the Queen; and I could not mention the unexpected kind feeling bestowed thus publicly on me, were it not a duty which I owe to a class of people whom I had ever been taught felt nothing but bitterness, and acted nothing but persecution to their opponents. But justice, not sectarianism, must be my motto; character, and not popularity, must be my watchword.[11] I was a Protestant, and they knew it. Father Mathew arose, and introduced me to the audience, telling them my object in Ireland was to visit the poor, and learn their true condition; adding a sketch of my manner of travelling and living, which I had never told him.

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.