Pilgrimage to Kildare: Chapter IV, Blessings in Disguise

May 20, 2022

 After the service, I bade farewell to St Patrick's, the rain was still heavy and the pain of blisters was now unbearable, so I finallybought some blister plasters from the chemist on the main road. I had to wait for my feet to dry before I could apply them, so in the next town Navan, I headed for the nearest Cathedral to patch myself up. To my dismay the Cathedral was closed for a funeral so I ducked in at the Cathedral shop to see what I could find out. Inside was a great guy called Michael who said I was welcome to use the back room to rest up, he even brought me over a hot cup of tea. He also loved hearing about the pilgrimage and found it an inspiring journey which at that point was making the hardship all the more bearable. After parting company, I started to walk the final leg of the day to a town called Trim: - down the side of a busy road which was the fastest route. The grass verge was so wide, I honestly felt quite safe but a commuter lady certainly didn’t. About 3 hours in to my journey I was again bare foot as the plasters had slipped off in the wet and the pain was again unbearable. At this point, the rain was getting heavier and was forecast all night, so my plan for the evening was again to look for a sheltered hidey hole somewhere... although I didn’t seem to be having much luck in finding sheltered hidey holes….
 "Oi, what do you think your doing walking bare foot on this busy road, come over here!". It was a very, very angry lady. To be honest her shouting was pretty rude and I did just want to ignore her, but I felt to cross over and ‘do what I was told’. The lady as it happened was the headmistress of a school in the town I was travelling towards and thought I was some silly lunatic kid putting myself in grave danger. Once I started explaining my pilgrimage to Kildare in search of the eternal flame of St Brigid, she softened and offered me a lift into the town. She also gave me 50 Euros making me promise to get a hot meal and BnB for the night.

I found the most lovely hotel and settled in with a large microwave meal and hot shower. The room was gorgeous in a Victorian style and the heating was on full blast so everything dried out nicely. It continued to rain throughout the night and the next morning and you can’t imagine how thankful I was for that beautiful room.
Today was the last day and night on the road and I had the furthest ground to cover. I decided to email the Dean of Kildare Cathedral to arrange a blessing for the cross that I was yet to make. But sadly, his response was that he’d rather that I stayed away from the service due to Covid times. I had however heard that St Brigids ancient fire pit was still in the cathedral grounds, so my intention was to perform some sort of ceremony there anyhow to mark the visit.  Anyway, time was getting away and I realised that I had missed the only morning bus out of town so the kind landlady took me by car to the next town Enfield. I think I was the most cheerful on the road today despite the rain, as it was my last day. I did have a fair distance to cover on foot and I was walking so slowly because my feet were in such poor shape. The roads were nice country lanes and the nicest scenery, but this was farming land and there were no shops what so ever for miles around. In the early afternoon I stopped to check the map and a car pulled up next to me. It was an elderly man who had stopped to see if I was okay. He was off somewhere but insisted that I should wait for his return because he really wanted to make me a cup of tea, so how could I refuse. 

While I was waiting, across the road a young woman came out of her driveway to ask if I was okay. I mentioned that I was waiting for an elderly gentleman and she said, "Well that’ll be me dad".  So we three went into the farmhouse for tea and baked beans on toast. The farmhouse looked like it was well over 100 years old with no renovations - it was so cool. He did offer a bed for the night but it was my last day so I decided to crack on. Several hours later I started to think about my final sleep. As I walked, I kept checking out churchyards with shrubs where I could hide but nothing appealed (I had grown fussy). I was getting desperate come 8.30pm so I decided to start knocking on a few doors to see if I might be allowed to camp in a garden.  I tried a few placed that didn’t answer but then one did and it was lovely lady Gronya, whose husband agreed it would be okay to camp. 

I laid my sleeping bag out onto the lawn and enjoyed some tea and a snack they had brought over. A little while later I knocked on the door again to use the bathroom before bedtime when Gronya declared, that she has been sat inside so worried all this time, she offered me a bed inside. I was genuinely looking forward to sleeping outside but I accepted the offer of kindness all the same and had a deep and refreshing sleep, excited for the next day.

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