A Night in Bandon

Asenath Nicholson
Chapter XV (7) | Start of Chapter

Saturday, 22d.—I made preparation for leaving Cork, but the kind Mrs. Fisher persuaded me to stop till Monday, and refused any compensation for the long time I had been with her. What shall I say of the kindness manifested to me in Cork? This city had not lost its civilization by being civilized. In all other large towns in Ireland I had noticed, the more wealth and show, the less kindness and urbanity of manners. Cork is ranked as high or higher in literature than any city in Ireland, and its management is quite under the jurisdiction of the Roman Catholics.

Monday, 24th.—Go I must. Mrs. Danker called, and said, "if possible I will see you at the coach." When I arrived, she was in waiting with two or three other ladies, and when I was snugly seated in the carriage, she again gave me her hand, putting into mine a pound note. The coachman gave me no time to thank her, and thus was an additional debt of gratitude incurred, which I shall never pay. A supply of oranges had been purchased by the ladies, and I was pursued by a lad throwing them into the coach for many yards after we had entered the main street, to the no small amusement of the lookers-on.

Bandon was my place of destination, at least for a night, about twenty miles from Cork; and with a note from Mrs. Danker to a friend, who would show me to a lodging place, I alighted from the coach. The dwelling was found, but I was admitted no further than the hall. The letter was read and I was pointed to a house over the way—the lady had no room; to another—no room; to a third—no room. I returned, and stood upon the steps of the door—no invitation to walk in. The young lady insisted that I should go to a public-house. In the meantime she sent a boy to three supposable cases: all refused. It was now ten o'clock. The servant accompanied me to a distant hotel, where I was received, and left my muff in pledge while I returned to the coach office for my luggage. The keeper of the coach-house inn kindly returned with me, and we were met at the door by a young lady, saying, "your room is taken, and we cannot accommodate you."

I seriously feared my complaisant guide would take a freak, when he found that I had utterly been refused by so many, and leave me to make my way as best I could. But he invited me to his well-regulated house, and I stopped the next day and night on account of rain; and for my vexatious reception in the town, he said I should pay nothing in Bandon. This is a handsome town of about twelve thousand inhabitants; formerly Protestants, but now mostly Catholics. It was once famed for the weaving of corduroy and tickens, but all have gone down, leaving the town like many of its sisters in Ireland, sitting idle without employment.

The inn-keeper was an Englishman, and showed his attachment to Ireland by having resided in it twenty-five years, and marrying three Irish ladies since living in the country, besides having one buried in England. The English, though not the greatest admirers of Ireland as a whole, yet seem to have no objection to the Irish ladies for wives; and in this they certainly show good taste.

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.