Visit to a Dying Man

Asenath Nicholson
Chapter XXV (4) | Start of Chapter

Thursday, May 15th.—Prepared to depart, gave all the farewells to the family, and while the trembling hand of the old lady to whom I had read so much pressed mine, her still more trembling voice said, "The Almighty God be with ye, and I do believe we shall meet in heaven." I felt grateful to God that I had met this old pilgrim, and cheered her a little on her passage to the grave. She knew, she felt, that she was on the confines of the eternal world, and her only desire was that Christ would be glorified in her, and fit her to depart in peace. Mrs. M., her daughter, and the young woman who accompanied me to Tully, went out with me a mile on my way, and we called at a cabin to see a sick woman, who the day previous was present at the long reading. I was now obliged to say adieu to my companions and Clifden for ever. It was painful to leave the interesting girl, who had seen better days in the life-time of her father, and is now destitute of those means of acquiring that instruction which she is so anxious to obtain.

Galway was my destination, and I ascended a car of the common kind, in company with a young married woman, and Wm. Keane, the good man who had offered me a ride from the Roundstone at the Half-way house. He had a noble heart, and some refinement of manner. I begged to stop at the cabin of the kind man who gave me a lodging on the bundle of straw. Mr. K. went to the door, and called him. He crept out, tottering, to the road, a handkerchief about his head; his pale face, his bright eye, and husky voice telling that consumption was consuming his vitals. "I can get no good here, ma'am, and plaise God I shall go back to Tralee, if the good God don't take me away." I presented him a Testament, telling him it was the good book I read to him when there. "An' God bless ye, and warn't ye a blessin' to me when in my cabin, and I can do nothing to pay ye." I gave the children some books, and as he turned away, he spoke in a low tone to Mr. K., "Take care of that woman; she's a blessin' to Ireland. She was a blessin' to me; and God I know will bless her." This was too much, when I had been so hospitably sheltered from the storm at his expense. It was I who had received the blessing, and as I saw him slowly creep to his cabin, and knew that he must soon stand disembodied before his judge, I prayed that the good seed sown in his heart might spring up to eternal life.

We called at Mr. Steely's, where I stayed on my way to Clifden; stopped long enough to roast me a couple of potatoes, and distribute a few tracts. Then passed the pleasant lakes where I read to the old man and his daughter. It was a sunny day, and the mountain and lake scenery was exceedingly beautiful. We reached the Protestant family where I had promised to leave some books, and was entreated to spend a night with them, but could not. "She is the loveliest woman," said Mr. Keene, when we had gone out, "that ever lived on these wild mountains. She's a Christian." He was a Catholic, yet her godly example convinced him that she was a follower of Christ.

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.