Dwelling of the Three Sisters

Asenath Nicholson
Chapter XVII (8) | Start of Chapter

Against a huge rock—for there was no chimney—there burned a few little twigs of wood. Three sisters—the eldest seventeen, the second twelve, and the third two, all nestled in straw, for there were not stools enough for each; and neither bed nor table encumbered the room.

"Where do you sleep?" I asked.

"Poor folks must do as they can', ma'am—we lie here," pointing to a pile of staw on the left. The little child now asked for a potatoe. "I have none for you." Not a particle of food did this destitute abode contain; and giving the child a couple of hard biscuits, she gnawed them greedily—for the first time probably having had a piece of bread in her life.

"How do you live?"

"As we can, ma'am." I then spoke of Jesus Christ.

"I don't understand ye," said she. "Do you not know whom I mean by Jesus Christ?" I asked.

She could not comprehend me, and the second sister said, "We don't go to church or chapel, ma'am." I inquired how long they had lived there. "One year, ma'am." They had no father, and the mother had gone from home, begging, I supposed. I knew not what to say to them, nor what to do for them; they were perishing for "lack of knowledge," and the beasts of the desert had more comfortable dwellings than they.[15]

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.