The Letters of “Norah” on her Tour Through Ireland (1882)

The Claddagh was a great disappointment to me. I heard that it was not safe to venture into it alone. I got up early and had sunshine with me when I strolled through the Claddagh. I saw no extreme poverty there. Most of the houses were neatly whitewashed; all were superior to the huts among the ruins at Athenry. The people were very busy, very comfortably clothed, and, in a way, well-to-do looking. Some of the houses were small and windowless, something the shape of a beehive, but not at all forlornly squalid. They make celebrated fleecy flannel here in Claddagh. They make and mend nets. They fish. I saw some swarthy men of foreign look, in seamen’s clothes, standing about. You will see beauty here of the swarthy type, accompanied by flashing black eyes and blue black hair, but I saw lasses with lint white locks also in the Claddagh. The testimony of all here is that the Claddagh people are a quiet, industrious, temperate and honest race of people. I am inclined to believe that myself. It is a pretty large district and I wandered through it without hearing one loud or one profane word. I was agreeably disappointed in the Claddagh. Claddagh has a church and large school of its own.

There is difference perceptible to me, but hardly describable between the Galway men and the rest of the West. The expression of face among the Donegal peasantry is a patience that waits. The Mayo men seem dispirited as the Leitrim men also do, but are capable of flashing up into desperation. The Galway men seem never to have been tamed. The ferocious O’Flaherties, the fierce tribes of Galway, the dark Spanish blood, have all left their marks on and bequeathed their spirit to the men of Galway. I met one or two who, like some of the Puritans, believed that killing was not murder, who urged that if the law would not deter great men from wrong-doing it should not protect them.” – Margaret Dixon McDougall; “The Letters of “Norah” on her Tour Through Ireland”; 1882.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *