Journey to Urlingford

Asenath Nicholson
Chapter V (7) | Start of Chapter

We set off for Urlingford with a car so loaded, that none but Irishmen would have suffered the inconvenience patiently. I was going to Urlingford to visit the parents of nine servant girls who had lived with me in New York, all from one parish, though of different families; and when within five miles of the place, I asked the driver if he knew a widow of the name of——. A commonly-dressed man, seated on the luggage above my head, stooped down and whispered, "Are you not Mary H's mistress?" I answered in the affirmative, and he made such an outcry that coachman and passengers entreated to know what could bewitch the man. He alarmed me, he shook me, and called me all manner of good names, regretting that he was a tetotaler, that he could not "trate" me, that the parish had looked for me till their hearts were broke. His volubility never ceased till we reached Johnstown, where the car left us, leaving a walk of more than two miles, to my destination. Here a raspberry cordial was presented to me, and we passed through the little village, followed by men, women, and children, who were all told by my gallant that I was Mary H.'s mistress. Each one proffered the hand, saying "welcome, welcome to Ireland."

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.