Conversible Coast Guard

Asenath Nicholson
Chapter XX (5) | Start of Chapter

Saying good morning to police men, laboring men, women, and children, and passing on, a resolute man interrupted me by "Let me inquire are you a foreigner? I am likewise a stranger here, a coast-guard; and did you ever see or hear anything like Kerry? The people jabbering like blackbirds, and these wild rocks and mountains, the most frightful, ma'am. I'm from the north; and where are you going?" "To O'Connell's, sir." "And there you'll find the hospitality; but be sure you take the new road, it's the smoothest under foot. And I wish I was going too; but I'm stationed here, and so I can't go with you; stationed here to guard the coast against smugglers, do ye understand?" There was something peculiar in this man's appearance; he seemed to have caught the wildness of the scenery around him, or his occupation had given him that watchful restlessness that made me feel uneasy in his presence, and I was relieved when he said, "I must not walk any further with you, ma'am."

I was just settling into a quiescent state, when from behind me one called out, running at full speed, "Pardon me, lady, you are from New York; you never heard of a dress-maker by the name of Roan, a daughter of mine, who has not written me in nearly two years, and isn't it in Greenwich street she stops?"

"I do not, sir, recollect having the honor of her acquaintance." "I'm quite sorry, ma'am, that business takes me out of town; I would take my carriage, and carry you to Derrynane. That's the place! And ye'll not return to-day, nor to-morrow. Keep the new road, ma'am, and the Almighty God go with you."

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.