(March 1883).

A letter from Mrs. Power Lalor was handed to me on Monday afternoon, the 12th of March, asking whether I could start with her for Donegal next morning by the 7:45 train from Amiens-street. She had got passes on the Great Northern Railway; was anxious to see if the accounts from the distressed districts were in any way exaggerated; and also wished to ascertain the exact number of children who, through want of clothing, were prevented from attending school, and thus lost the food she was sending to the famine-stricken localities. Moreover, she wanted to find out some feasible means of providing nutritive food, such as beef-tea, milk, and other little luxuries for the sick children in their homes; and felt that if once on the spot she could easily organise a simple plan for distributing these things, and saving thereby many young lives.

I replied, without delay, that I was quite ready for the expedition, and would be at the station next morning at the time appointed...

The plan for our first day's work was to drive from the town of Donegal to Killybegs, visiting the schools as we went along. This drive is one of the loveliest imaginable: mountain toppling over mountain, the broad Atlantic gleaming in the distance, and bays and baylets of exquisite beauty washing the base of the acclivities, on whose wellmade roads we pleasantly journeyed along. Nothing could be finer than the day, considering the season, and we were enjoying the excursion when the car-driver suddenly stopped at a small schoolhouse, saying: "This is Dunkineely, ma'am." On the ground floor we found some twelve children writing copies. Upstairs there were about thirty. They had just eaten their breakfast, and the teacher remarked that the number on the roll had greatly increased since food was given. About fifteen had to stay at home from want of clothing. Some of the children's clothes, I could not help remarking, showed a great aptitude for mending on the part of the mothers, the original texture having totally disappeared under the multitude of patches. I also remarked that some of the children had borrowed from their parents; for their garments, like the cities of Prance, were "Toulouse and Toulon." An examination of the roll verified the teacher's statement. The children whom we examined were very well taught, and presented the appearance of a remarkably bright and intelligent lot of little folk. There were no sick children among them, thank God.

We next visited Bruckless school. There are eighty-five children attending this school, and the Rev. J. Slevin, whom we met, said there was no sickness among the pupils. The clothing of some of the children was very bad. The rev. Father mentioned particularly an orphan, named Lucy Molloy, to whom the neighbours are very good. The church, the presbytery, and the schoolhouse form a group of buildings beautifully situated. A modern round tower was added some time ago, and serves as a belfry. All are evidently proud of this addition to the landscape. If ivy could be got to grow on it, the structure would pass very well for one of the "round towers of other days," only that instead of shining beneath the waves it shines above them. The view of the bay from this spot is superb. Father Slevin kindly invited us to lunch, but as we had a long journey before us we thought it better not to delay, and after many thanks on his part to Mrs. Power Lalor for all she was doing for his six schools, we took our leave, regretting that we could not have a longer chat with this hardworking clergyman.

From Bruckless to Killybegs the road is of wondrous beauty...

Excerpted from The Irish Monthly, Eleventh Yearly Volume, 1883. M.H. Gill & Son, Dublin.