Kind Little Guide

Asenath Nicholson
Chapter XVII (3) | Start of Chapter

On my return, the kind little Mary, with clean apron and nicely combed hair, was ready to accompany me up the glen to the "Eagle's Nest;" and no nest was ever more famed in history, as the reader shall presently hear. On our way to this place we had a river to cross without a bridge, and the late rains had so swollen it, that the stepping-stones were covered. Mary waded the stream, and I made my way over rocks, bogs, and hillocks, till despairing of success; a ragged peasant, driving a horse with two baskets of lime across his back, called out to Mary, in Irish, "I'll go and lift her across." He was old, and I did not think it safe; and besides, the kindness was too great. He rolled up his pantaloons, waded the river, and proffered his services in Irish. I declined; when he found a place where, taking me by the hand, he helped me, at considerable peril, over the slimy rocks; and, ascending the precipitous bank, he braced his feet, pulled me up the steep, and set me on terra firma. He could not understand English, nor I Irish; but he understood the meaning of a few pennies put into his hand, and seemed quite satisfied.

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.