Drodaph32 is one of the biggest and most populous towns in the kingdom, occasioned by her traffic on the sea, as well
p.418on account of the goodness and safety of its port, as of its being placed in a country full of all kinds of provisions, and situated on the river Boyne, bordered by two hills, whereof it occupies the greatest part, which makes it a very strong place, with a castle in the highest part of the town, on the side by which I entered, where it appeared almost in ruins; but the walls of the town are still entire and defensible; here is always a garrison, as in the most important place of the kingdom. Passing over a bridge, which joins this part of the town to the larger, you come to a great quay, bordered by vessels, which come hither from all parts of Europe. The tide here rises near a fathom and a half, and the river would be deep enough, and capable of bearing large vessels, if the entrance had not been greatly damaged, and almost stopped up by the sands which it brings with it from the mountains wherein it rises. From this bridge you come to a fine and broad street, which forms a square in its centre, which serves for a parade; here is the town-house, towards which tend most of the best streets in the town. I was there on a Sunday, and was told that if I was desirous of hearing mass, one would be said at two miles distance from the town. It would be astonishing to relate the numbers of Catholics that I saw arrive from across the woods and mountains to assemble at this mass, which was said in a little hamlet, and in a chamber poorly fitted up. Here I saw, before mass, above fifty persons confess, and afterwards communicate with a devotion truly Catholic, and sufficient to draw these blind religionists to the true faith. The chapel in which the priest celebrated mass was not better adorned than the chamber; but God does not seek grand palaces, He chooses poverty and pureness of heart in those that serve Him. This priest informed me that the Irish were naturally inclined to the Catholic faith, but that there were many in different parts of the kingdom who found great difficulty to perform freely the functions of their religion. He had studied long in France, and spoke the French language well. He told me the Irish Catholics did not eat either flesh or eggs on Wednesdays, Fridays, or Saturdays; that they followed the
p.419commandments of the Church, and of our holy Father the Pope, whom they acknowledged for chief of the Catholic, Apostolic and Roman Church. This good man discoursed with me touching many difficulties there were in exercising the Catholic religion among the Protestants. He kept me with him for the space of half a day. Thence I returned to lodge at Drodaph. I left it on the next morning, and came into an open country, by a road almost all paved, to Doulers33 and Keltron,34 on a river, from whence you approach the seaside, which you must follow, and afterwards pass over a river near Dondalk.