Publican versus Priest

Asenath Nicholson
Chapter XVII (13) | Start of Chapter

We then came in sight of a tolerable looking house at a distance, and found it belonged to the priest of the glen. I was fatigued, and willing to avail myself of the acquaintance I had with him through his clerk, whom he requested to thank me for my labors in the glen, we went in. The priest had gone, but the kind housekeeper, so far as words could speak kindness, manifested the most ardent desire to make me comfortable, but could give me no refreshment, as they lived far from any town, and their bread was all brought from Bantry. "But ye'll meet him on the way, and ye'll know him by the sign of the white horse which he rides." The boy, like my old man, began to talk of the lateness of the hour, and we hurried away. Within three miles of Kenmare we saw the sign of the "white horse," and without preface or apology, I introduced myself. He thanked me kindly for lecturing his people at the glen, and said he had got discouraged. Five years before, the good Father Mathew had made them all temperate, but that publican's house had upset the whole work. I begged him to visit their cabins, and lecture them on their filth. "I have done so, but they heeded nothing I could say." He lived seven miles from them, had another parish in charge, and he knew not how to remedy these evils; "but to-morrow I have been thinking of making a trial from the altar, and I would take the liberty of using your name." Poor man! if indeed he felt the necessity of using me as a scare-crow, certainly I should not object, but I doubted the efficacy of the remedy.

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.