IRELAND OLD NEWS
Clare Journal and Ennis Advertiser, - Published 23 February 1837
PICTURE OF IRELAND IN 1644
(From M. De La Boullaye Le Gouz's Tour in Ireland, A.D. 1644)
Edited by T.C. Croker.
The towns are built in the English fashion, but the houses in the country are in this manner :- Two stakes are fixed in the ground, across which is a transverse pole to support two rows of rafters on the two sides, which are covered with leaves and straw. The cabins are of another fashion. There are four walls the height of a man, supporting rafters over which they thatch with straw and leaves. They are without chimneys and make the fire in the middle of the hut, which greatly incommodes those who are not fond of smoke. The castles or houses of the nobility consist of four walls extremely high, thatched with straw; but to tell the truth, they are nothing but square towers without windows, or, at least, having such small apertures as to give no more light than there is in a prison. They have little furniture, and cover their rooms with rushes, of which they make their beds in summer, and straw in winter. They put the rushes a foot deep on their floors, and on their windows, a
nd many of them ornament the ceilings with branches. They are fond of the harp, on which nearly all play, as the English do on the fiddle, the French on the lute, the Italian on the guitar, the Spaniards on the castanets, the Scotch on the bagpipe, the Swiss on the fife, the German on the trumpet, the Dutch on the tambourine, and the Turks on the flageolet.
The red-haired are considered the most handsome in Ireland. The women have hanging breasts, and those which are freckled like a trout are esteemed the most beautiful. The trade of Ireland consists in salmon and herrings, which they take in great numbers. You have one hundred and twenty herrings for a English penny, equal to a carolus of France, in the fishing time. They import salt and wine from France, and sell there strong frieze cloths at good prices. The Irish are fond of strangers, and its costs little to travel amongst them. When a traveller of good address enters their houses with assurance, he has but to draw a box of sinisine, or snuff, and offer it to them; then these people receive him with admiration, and give him the best they have to eat.
They love the Spaniards as their brothers, the French as their friends, the Italians as their allies, the Germans as their relatives,the English and Scotch as their irreconcilable enemies. I was surrounded on my journey from Kilkennick (Kilkenny) to Cachel (Cashel) by a detachment of twenty Irish soldiers, and when they learned I was Frankard, (it is thus they call us), they did not molest me in the least, but made me offers of service, seeing that I was neither Sazanach (Saxon) nor English.
The Irish, whom the English call savages, have for their head dress a little blue bonnet, raised two fingers breadth in front, and behind covering their head and ears. Their doublet has a long body and four skirts: and their breeches are a pantaloon of white frieze which they call trowsers. Their shoes, which are pointed, they call brogues with a single sole. For cloaks they have five or six yards of frieze drawn round the neck, the body, and over the head, and they never quit this mantle, either in sleeping, working or eating.
Submitted by David K.
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