The road [into the Killery mountains] was rough, and we constantly were meeting pale, meager-looking men, who were on their way from the mountains to break stones, and pile them mountain-high, for the paltry compensation of a pound of meal a-day; these men had put all their seed into the ground, and if they gave up their cabins, they must leave the crop for the landlord to reap, while they must be in a poor-house or in the open air ….
We met flocks of wretched children going to school for the "bit of bread," some crying with hunger, some begging to get in without the penny which was required for their tuition. The poor emaciate creatures went weeping away, one saying he had been "look for a penny all day yesterday, and could not get it."
. . . [T]hough we met multitudes in the last stages of suffering, yet not one through that day asked charity, and in one case the common hospitality showed itself, by offering us milk when we asked for water. This day I saw enough, and my heart was sick – sick.
From Lights and Shades of Ireland, by Asenath Nicholson (1850)