Introduction. Asenath Nicholson, an American evangelist who was visiting Ireland during the Famine, praised the Belfast women for their hard work. She contrasted their efforts with the indolence of the ladies in Dublin. Here she records her impressions of the women of Dublin.
Source. Asenath Nicholson, Annals of the Famine in Ireland (1851) 57.
July 6th. , I took the steamer for Belfast. Here was work going on, which was paramount to all I had seen. Women were at work; and no-one could justly say that they were dilatory or inefficient. Never in Ireland, since the Famine, was such a happy combination of all parties, operating so harmoniously together, as was here manifested. Not in the least like the women of Dublin, who sheltered themselves behind their old societies—most of them excusing themselves from personal labour, feeling that a few visits to the abodes of the poor were too shocking for female delicacy to sustain; and though occasionally one might be prevailed upon to go out, yet but for a few days could I ever persuade any to accompany me. Yet much was given in Dublin, for it is a city celebrated for its benevolence, as deservedly so, as far as giving goes. But giving and doing are antipodes in her who has never been trained to domestic duties.
Christine Kinealy & Tomás O’Riordan