Return to Westport

Asenath Nicholson
Chapter XXV (16) | Start of Chapter

The next day a fair was held in Westport. Nothing new or interesting marked the occasion. The people in and about the town are tolerably tidy-looking peasantry, and though they could not wholly refrain from staring at me, yet I was not in that imminent danger of being swallowed alive, that seemed to threaten me in Galway. Another pleasant call at Mr. Smith's made the day pass profitably. He invited me into his place of worship, which was near his house, and while there I had occasion to speak of a clergyman in Dublin who was a friend of Mr. Smith, and from whom I had just received a letter. I read the letter to him; he seemed pleased, as if a doubt had been loosened but not removed respecting my good character and intentions. Pausing a moment, he said, "And is that letter from my friend? Let me see the handwriting." He took a letter from the same clergyman out of his pocket-book, compared the writing, and seeing there was actually no forgery, he was apparently much gratified.

I was more pleased with the good man now than before; for though he had not intimated by a word that he was jealous of my real character, nor did I let him know that I understood his doubts about the letter, yet I now saw he had been vacillating; and notwithstanding, had he known me to be a saint, he could not have treated me more kindly in word and action than he had done. Though his Scotch caution whispered that he must be upon the watch-tower against deceivers, yet he was "careful to entertain strangers" until he proved that they were not impostors.

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.