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in Ireland to benefit the poor, must be mainly confined to their own flocks, a miserable minority of the great body of the people, and a minority, too, much less destitute, generally speaking, than the majority. In this important relation of the clergy to the lower class of their parishioners, I see a strong argument in favour of payment by the State of the parochial ministers; but I also see in it the necessity of such payment being extended to every denomination of ministers. It is truly painful, in the present condition of things, to see the great body of the true pastors of the poor, the Catholic clergy, instead of being able to aid their flocks, pecuniarily or otherwise, condemned to accept their own scanty livelihood from them. So long as this is the case, the parish priest is necessarily disqualified from assuming that position of superiority in social station, which I regard as of so much consequence to the temporal welfare of the humbler class of their parishioners. And, it need hardly be added, that such a disqualification operates with tenfold force in such a country as Ireland, so destitute, as we have seen, of the class of lay gentry, and others of a class somewhat lower but still fitted to benefit those beneath them, as well by their means as by their example.
While stopping to change horses at the small village of Dromore West, about twelve miles from Ballina, I was able to ascertain the few following particulars respecting a Presbyterian School established there about five years: one of the schools formerly mentioned as emanating from the Belfast Ladies' Association. This school, at the time of my visit, contained about 100 children, who are nearly all Catholics: in the boys' school there was not one Protestant. There were nearly four times as many girls as boys in the school, a disproportion readily explained by the fact that the girls' schools are Industrial Schools, in which a good deal of money is gained by the muslin work done in it. The schoolmistress told me that she had paid as much as 251. for work in a fortnight, and that she now sometimes
pays as much as 151. But for this work and its resulting pay, the greater part of the girls, being orphans, deserted, or inadequately supported, would be in the workhouse.
There is also a National School in this village, but I had not time to visit it. According to the official reports, it had on the books 85 boys and 58 girls in September, 1850, and 55 boys and 65 girls in September, 1851.
In approaching the town of Sligo, as we did, from the west, the traveller is surprised to be told that he is almost arrived at it,—that it is but a furlong before him, and so on,—while nothing can be seen of it, except one or two public buildings, which are afterwards found to be more than a mile from it. The fact is, that Sligo lies in a deep valley, on the banks of its own harbour, and consequently on the sea-level, while a partial rising of the ground still intervenes between the spectator and it, as he descends the slope of its surrounding hills. Nevertheless, the site of nearly all its streets cannot be called flat, as the acuteness of the angle formed by the hills constituting the valley, produces a marked slope on either side on which the houses are built.
The centre of the valley below the town is filled by the arm of the sea constituting the harbour, and in the town by the river Garrogue, which divides it into two parts. Both these form fine features in the immediate aspect of the town, while the landscape that bounds it, comprising at once exquisite views of the mountains, the bay, and the sea, may fairly claim to be at once beautiful and picturesque.
The town itself contains very little worthy of note. There are, to be sure, two fair bridges joining the two portions of the town, a spacious county jail, two tolerably good-looking churches, a large but clumsy Catholic chapel, a neat Infirmary, and the ruins of a fine old Dominican Abbey; but, with the exception of the last named, none of the structures are remarkable. There are two or three tolerable streets, but the majority are small, poor, and rather untidy. There are two hotels of consi. derable size, but they are inferior in appearance to those of most of the towns previously visited by us, and that where we put up was certainly not first-rate. The harbour, so beautiful a feature in so many Irish
towns, retains the same character here, although I believe it is not so good as it looks, being obstructed by a rather impracticable bar, which mars its navigation. Ships, however, of a considerable size come up to the town, and it can boast, I am told, of having the most commerce of any town in Connaught. It has shared with almost all the other ports in that traffic of expatriation which has, of late years, given to Ireland a sad pre-eminence over all other countries. In the year 1850 there sailed from Sligo 1832 emigrants, viz., 931 for the United States, and 901 for our possessions in Canada. I know not the subsequent amount of emigration.
The population of the town of Sligo was in 1841, according to the census returns, 12,272, but had fallen down to 10,889 in 1851. If, indeed, we were to include the inmates of the gaol, workhouse, and hospitals in the latter year, instead of a decrease we should have an increase of 1058, these establishments having, within themselves a population of 2431.
Education flourishes in Sligo as elsewhere. There are
no less than four National Schools, though one of them was temporarily shut at the period of my visit. Three of these schools, in September, 1851, contained 252 boys and 660 girls. There are also three Protestant schools in connection with the Church Education Society; a male and female school in St. John's parish, and a female school in Calry parish. These in 1851 had 272 children on their rolls, with an average attendance of 167. The local contributions towards the support of the schools amounted in the same year to 921.
Sligo has likewise several schools, superintended by the Sisters of Mercy and other Nuns. In the Nunnery School belonging to the Order of Mercy, there were 250 grown-up girls and 140 children; and in that of the Ursuline, 200 children. The Sisters of Mercy have built a house of refuge, partly for education, but chiefly for the temporary maintenance, by their own work, of servants out of place: it contained, at the time of my visit, 40 inmates.
These excellent women have here, as in Westport, taken the Temperance movement under their direction, and have within the last year given the pledge to full 200 men. Like their Sisters in Westport, they give the pledge for a limited period of one or two years.
In Sligo as elsewhere Teetotalism had fallen from its high estate, and the fall here as elsewhere was attributed to the sad incidents of the years of pestilence and famine. Many men attributed their broken pledges to the recommendation of their medical friends, who considered spirits as a prophylactic against cholera and fever. One poor fellow, an ostler, told me that his doctor had been the ruin of him, by advising him to take two glasses of spirits, besides beer, daily. He had, however, after experiencing for a time the evils of the stimulating regimen, returned to his pledge, and had now kept it faithfully for eight years.