The "Dry Arch" (bridge over the Shallogan River), Straboy, County Donegal: photo by Robert French, c. 1890s (The Lawrence Photograph Collection, National Library of Ireland)
"It was a subject of regret and absurd as well on the face of it, and no small blame to our vaunted society, that your man in the street, when the system really needed toning up, for the matter of a couple of paltry dollars was debarred from seeing more of the world he lived in instead of being always and ever cooped up since my old stick-in-the-mud took me for a wife," said she, speaking as if to herself, or no one in particular.
He never stirred upon the utterance of these words, if indeed he heard them, in which event, had he heard, and she known he did, she might have pressed on, playing the advantage, but for the sound of the telephone device, which had been installed just the previous Thursday, and produced a penetrating tone audible to anyone in range of their hut, covered as it was with sod and straw, straw and sod, during that whole period, or at least the greater part of it, so far as is known.
"The finespun weft it is then," he told his left shoe, having for a moment looked down and away from the bright frail thread of stars drawn through the dense warp of the night, remembering the shutter and the picking stick going stiff in the knobbled hand after a time, "the pitiful industry of the weaver that never ceases, wearying, growing always older, going slowly from weft to wight in the straw and the sod, or beneath, perhaps beneath the mud and clay in which it was all going to be stuck, in any case, my dear," sighed he, as the heavy stone gate to the smallholding beyond slowly groaned to a close once again.
Bugs Bunny could find no apt rejoinder and so, gathering her skirts about her as protection against the filth of the public ways, she re-entered by the narrow passage through which she had first come, so many years before, and once safely within, resumed her waiting and counting, counting and waiting, as it was not yet Tuesday, when the delivery wagon had been expected.
Main Street, Ballyhaunis, County Mayo: photo by Robert French, c. 1890s (The Lawrence Photograph Collection, National Library of Ireland)
Castletownshend, County Cork: photo by Fergus O'Connor, c. 1910 (Fergus O'Connor Collection, National Library of Ireland)
Castlebar, County Mayo: photo by Robert French, between 1895 and 1900 (The Lawrence Photograph Collection, National Library of Ireland)
McGuinness's shop, Nobber, County Meath: photo by Robert French, c, 1901-1911 (The Lawrence Photograph Collection, National Library of Ireland)
Twomey's Machine Bakery, Shandon Street, Cork: photo by Fergus O'Connor, c. 1910 (Fergus O'Connor Collection, National Library of Ireland)